Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty
David: Phil Shabano.
David: Phil Shabano…I don’t know why, the unqualified son of a b****! I’ll tell you why, because life isn’t fair! But you know what’ll happen? It’ll balance out. He’ll buy that boat I’ve had to look at in that stupid catalog I’ve had for 3 years, and he’ll crash in Catalina and die, and SEALS WILL EAT HIM!
David (Brooks) is an ad exec who has just found out that he is not getting the big promotion he was hoping for. When he flips out and yells at his boss, he gets fired. After convincing his wife, Linda (Hagerty), to quit her job, the two liquidate their assets and buy an RV. The plan is to drive around the U.S. for as long as they can on their “nest egg”. Unfortunately, Linda loses the entire “nest egg” in Las Vegas on the first night.
I’m a big fan of Albert Brooks. I love the movie Defending Your Life, and I generally like him in everything I see him in. Lost In America is no exception. This was my second time watching it, and it was just as funny the second time through. I think Brooks is very effective at combining the ridiculous with the believable in a seamless way, whether it’s with dialogue or the situations his characters are in. For instance, after they lose their money and realize they need to get jobs, the decision as to where to stop comes down to David saying, “My legs are asleep, let’s live here.”
Brooks also has a certain delivery that I just can’t help but laugh at. His delivery of that line about seals is just classic. As is the scene where he tries to talk a casino owner into giving their money back. Julie Hagerty is good as well. She’s cute and funny and a little bit crazy when she needs to be. Like when she’s maniacally gambling away their life savings.
Beyond the comedy, though, is an idea that I think is still as relevant today as it was back in the 80s, even if there’s not as many people dropping out and tooling around the country now. I know I would enjoy the freedom that David and Linda were longing for. Away from the doldrums of the daily work life and the feeling that life is just passing you by. It’s that feeling of wanting to just remove yourself from the paths, or ruts, that society channels you into. Here it’s done with a comedic twist obviously, but you can still see how earnestly David and Linda want this plan to succeed. That’s Albert Brooks for you, though. He does not seem to enjoy having his characters come out on top in the end very often.
Speaking of the ending, it is the weakest part of the movie. In fact, it barely even feels like it has an ending. It just suddenly…ends.
Regardless, it’s a funny movie and very much worth seeing for anybody that enjoys Albert Brooks’ comedy. Or for anybody that might be thinking about purchasing an RV and hitting the road.
Just…avoid Vegas…at all costs.
10 – 1.2 for the weak ending – .4 for a couple things here and there that aren’t funny/don’t work = 8.4