‘Albert Brooks: Defending My Life’ review: revisiting past hilarity | ET REALITY


“Albert Brooks: Defending My Life,” a documentary about the venerable comedian, filmmaker, actor and writer, directed by his lifelong friend Rob Reiner, has the easy, gentle air of a career retrospective: wistful and hagiographic, It’s the kind of thing. which usually accompanies the lifetime achievement award.

Brooks, now 76, certainly deserves the recognition: The first four films he wrote and directed between 1979 and 2005, “Real Life,” “Modern Romance,” “Lost in America” ​​and “Defending Your Life” , are among the best. American comedies ever made, and his pioneering work on the late-night talk show circuit during the 1960s and ’70s had a seismic impact on the contemporary comedy landscape. (Not to mention his Academy Award-nominated role in “Broadcast News,” a nearly incomparable masterpiece.)

But there’s a reason we do comedy roasts, not toasts, as this movie’s rhapsodic tone makes clear: Breathless flattery just isn’t that interesting, no matter how funny the person receiving it is. While Brooks deserves praise, he deserves it in a format as compelling and dynamic as he is. “Defending My Life” is simply too flat.

Brooks and Reiner, lounging in a booth at Matteo’s restaurant in Los Angeles, friendly reminisce about Brooks’ life and work, while a top-notch ensemble of comedians including Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Larry David talk about its influence on a series. of standard interviews with talking heads. There are also clips from Brooks’ films and monologue routines, which make much of the interviewees’ praise redundant. We don’t need to be told that Brooks is a genius. Even a brief look at his work justifies this argument.

Albert Brooks: defending my life
Not qualified. Duration: 1 hour 28 minutes. Check it out on Max.

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