Though only his second directorial outing, "Modern Romance" is arguably Brooks' finest film and is the single most insightful and hilarious examination of the gut-wrenching and mind-twisting ordeal that is love. Some have commented that the movie is not as polished as his later work, and while that may be true from a cinematic standpoint, it is this raw quality that lends itself to an even greater statement about how a man can be turned upside down and inside out as he tries to comprehend life while under the influence of love. Brooks' doppelganger, Robert Cole, is the epitome of the obsessed and doomed lover, a man who knows his love for a woman (brilliantly portrayed by Kathryn Harrold, as the haughty and insecure Mary Harvard) is unhealthy, but is compelled nevertheless to have her. His struggle with reason and love is the central theme to the film, yet even though Cole is depicted as an irrational neurotic, never once does Brooks make him unsympathetic. While Coles' actions in his pursuit of Mary defy reason, anyone who has ever been in love will understand all too well why he does the things he does.
This is perhaps that only movie for which it can be said that every single scene -- nay, every line -- is hilarious. Spectacular performances from Mr. Brooks, Kathryn Harold, Bruno Kirby, and terrific cameos from James L. Brooks (no relation), Bob "Super Dave Osborne" Einstein (who IS Brooks' brother....Yes, Albert Brooks real name is....Albert Einstein!), George Kennedy and, believe it or not, Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon, whose scene with Brooks is a moment of surreal genius. If for no other reason, see this movie for "the movie within the movie" that Brooks' and Kirby's characters are editing.
I would say to those who, for whatever reason, do not like Albert Brooks -- either you find him irritating or just don't get his humor -- then do not bother, because Brooks is center stage for the entire movie and the humor is the very essence of "Brooks-ian". Yet even if the movie seems very personal, it speaks to all of the world's "fools in love", managing to embody and transcend the filmmaker. I happen to think he is one of the funniest and insightful observers ever of the human condition, but am aware his style is not universally loved.
Though made in 1981, it is as resonant now as it was then; and, considering that people, against all rational thought, will forever fall in love, this movie will always have something very insightful and extremely funny to say. For what it's worth, I have over the years rated almost a thousand movies and TV shows here at IMDb, and have given less than 15 "10 stars". "Modern Romance" is one of those few films, and deservedly so. I am not saying the movie is not without its flaws; but because of the nature and subject matter of the movie, and because it is painfully obvious that Albert Brooks' personal experience is very much on display, those flaws actually add to the genius of the work.
Comedy / Romance
Comedy / Romance
Robert Cole, a film editor, is constantly breaking up with and reconciling with long-suffering girl friend Mary Harvard, who works at a bank. He is irrationally jealous and self-centered, while Mary has been too willing to let him get away with his disruptive antics. Can they learn to live with each other? Can they learn to live without each other? The movie also provides insight into film editing as Robert and co-worker Jay work on their current project, a cheesy sci-fi movie.
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