January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

John Henderson (Albert Brooks) has just endured his second divorce, which includes the loss of most of his furniture. As he sits in his last remaining chair and scoots it around, looking for the best place in a now empty room, he begins to hit rock bottom. He has had no luck with women in the least and his writing career, while once at a decent level, has frozen. He tries to hope for the best and start on a new book, but his mind is breaking down and he needs answers. Then the idea hits him and he takes a risk, which could pay off in serious ways, or it could warp him even further and push him over the edge. John feels that if he moves back in with his mother Beatrice (Debbie Reynolds), he can assess his problems and solve them, which will put him back on the right course. She thinks he is insane, his brother (Rob Morrow) thinks he is insane, and pretty much, everyone thinks he is insane. So will John’s experiment work and allow him to bring closure to his troubles, or will simply pile on even more?

I’d have to say that Defending Your Life is my personal choice as Albert Brooks’ best film, but a very close second is this one. I think Brooks is in fine form here and his turn seems on the money, plus Debbie Reynolds gives an Oscar worthy performance. Of course, she was overlooked when the time came, but her work here is still tremendous. This is the kind of story most of us can relate to in some fashion, even if not to the extremes Brooks goes to here. A few nice supporting roles also flesh things out, but this one belongs to Brooks and Reynolds, no doubt about it. I love the dialogue in this picture and always laugh a lot, especially when Brooks discusses how old his mother’s food is, that is classic indeed. I also found this to be touching at times, as it shows the bond of mother and son in a unique light, which provides some very genuine moments. I simply can’t recommend this release enough and while more extras would have been great, the film alone warrants a purchase in this case.

Although she had not taken a lead role in almost thirty years, Debbie Reynolds seems as gifted as ever and really shines in this picture. Her main task here is to interact with other people and sometimes machines, so she isn’t alone much, but she comes through and then some. Her bouts with the picture phone are hilarious, as are her views on expensive groceries, which she delivers just right. I like how she plays the role very serious at times, but has a slight comedic edge, which gives her the spark she needs to excel here. Other films with Reynolds include The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Singin’ In The Rain, How The West Was Won, In & Out, and It Started With A Kiss. The cast here also includes Albert Brooks (The Scout, Real Life), Rob Morrow (Quiz Show, Tv’s Northern Exposure), Lisa Kudrow (Hanging Up, Tv’s Friends), John C. McGinley (Office Space, Any Given Sunday), Laura Weekes (Black Sheep, A Very Brady Sequel).

Video: How does it look?

Mother is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I am very pleased with this image, although a few scenes seem a little too dark to me. But that slight flaw is infrequent and even when it is present, the detail is still strong and as such, no real worries. On the whole, the contrast seems level and proper, with bold shadows and high detail visible, with only a handful of scenes to diminish the perfection. No errors with the colors either, which seem bright when needed, but also natural when that is called for. No real complaints here and aside from those few darker scenes, this is a terrific visual presentation.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a dialogue driven picture, so the Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn’t too powerful, but it does provide a nice experience. The musical score spices up the audio presence a lot, since most of the elements are vocals, which can become dull after some time. But the score brings some life into this mix, which really helps things out a lot here. Not much to talk about with sound effects, as the main focus is on dialogue, which fuels the film from start to finish. It sounds good also, very well mixed and always sharp, no real problems in the least. This disc also includes 2.0 surround tracks in English and French, as well as English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

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