The Set of 400: #162 – My Favorite Soul Bowl

Today! Because now she’s thinking of dead kittens!

All of Me (1984)

Directed by Carl Reiner (x3)

Starring Steve Martin (x6), Lily Tomlin (x2), Victoria Tennant, Madolyn Smith, Richard Libertini (x2), Selma Diamond (x2), Eric Christmas (x2), Michael Ensign, Basil Hoffman (x2), Dana Elcar, Jason Bernard (x2), Gailard Sartain, Neva Patterson, Harvey Vernon

The rage of body switching style comedies of the ’80s and ’90s hit its peak with All of Me, the third, final, and best of the Carl Reiner/Steve Martin collaborations on this list. These movies had the built in appeal of seeing wildly different persons trying to inhabit each other’s bodies, and seeing how the actors involved would pull this off. Whether it’s list favorites #358 Switch or #366 Freaky Friday, or more generic fare like 18 Again and Like Father, Like Son, or the rapid-aging sub-genre of this idea like Big or 13 Going on 30, this is a tried and true formula that will seemingly never tire in audience imaginations. Congratulations! The twist with All of Me is that dying millionaire Edwina (Lily Tomlin) gets magically stuffed into lawyer Roger’s (Steve Martin) body, where they both have to inhabit it while trying to sort of the nefarious details of her heir’s schemes.

It’s super high concept – higher than the typical plot, really – but works wonderfully, thanks to the funny screenplay by #378 Sneakers great Phil Alden Robinson, and the terrific physical performance by Steve Martin, doing the heavy lifting in this scenario. Tomlin is great as the re-embodied rich lady, but mostly appears in mirrors and voice overs. Martin often has to act out two parts of his body being controlled at the same time, with hilarious results. While snubbed of an Oscar nomination – that bias against comedy rearing up again and again – he did win Best Actor from the New York Film Critics Circle and from the National Society of Film Critics, so impressive is his channeling of this wacky situation. And they are well supported in the twisty, unconventional plot by near-body surrogate Terry’s Victoria Tennant (the future Mrs. and Ex-Mrs. Martin) and Richard Libertini has the mystic Prahka Lasa responsible for all these soul-jumping hijinks. You know what? Calling it – Richard Libertini MVP!

A good zany hat is the key to almost any zany character

Martin and Tomlin both received Golden Globe nominations for Comedy acting, but 1984 was a crazy deep year on this side. Sure, #375 Romancing the Stone won Best Comedy/Musical and Kathleen Turner took home Best Actress, but these top categories also featured nominations for Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, #349 Broadway Danny Rose, Splash, and…Micki + Maude, which I’ll admit I’ve never seen, but I do love Dudley Moore and he won Best Actor for it, so…good? I don’t know.

A bunch of new Two-Timers, plus Carl Reiner becoming the 13th Three-Timer director (#302 Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and #266 The Jerk), but the obvious spotlight today goes to the Steve Martin, our seventh Six-Timer, following his roles in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Jerk, #215 Bowfinger, #373 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and #253 My Blue Heaven.

Coming tomorrow! Every Christmas you say the same thing. And every Christmas it’s just as inconvenient as it was the Christmas before –

1 Comment

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One response to “The Set of 400: #162 – My Favorite Soul Bowl

  1. Pingback: Carl Reiner! | Fantasy Death Pool

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