Tag Archives: Albert Brooks

The Set of 400: #234 – My Favorite Sandbox Escape

Today! Because this book doesn’t have any answers!

The Simpsons Movie (2007)

Directed by David Silverman

Starring Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright (x2), Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Yeardley Smith, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille (x2), Albert Brooks (x3), Tom Hanks (x2), Joe Mantegna

The debt of honor we as a people owe to Tracey Ullman can never truly be assessed. Yes, without Matt Groening and James L. Brooks and Sam Simon we wouldn’t have the decades of merriment and hilarity The Simpsons has given us, but without Ullman’s terrific sketch comedy show on the relatively new FOX network in the late ’80s, they may have never gotten a foot in the door as everyone’s favorite yellow skinned family (and then by extension we never would’ve gotten Futurama, still my pick as one of the top three or four consistently funny sitcoms ever made – The Simpsons has obviously been diluted down by the many years since its heyday).

Congratulations, meat bags!

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The Set of 400: #331 – My Favorite Punchable Child Character

Today! Because he’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of the national debt –

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Directed by Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, and Steven Spielberg

Starring Dan Aykroyd (x2), Albert Brooks (x2), Vic Morrow, John Larroquette (x2), Steven Williams, Scatman Crothers, Selma Diamond, Bill Quinn, Murray Matheson, Kathleen Quinlan, Dick Miller, John Lithgow, Donna Dixon, Burgess Meredith (x3), Abbe Lane, Bill Mumy, Nancy Cartwright, William Schallert, Patricia Barry, Kevin McCarthy, Jeremy Licht, Priscilla Pointer, Martin Garner, Helen Shaw, Charles Hallahan, Doug McGrath

A wildly uneven movie, which is to be expected considering the basis, the highs in Twilight Zone are pretty damn high, while the lows are only mediocre – this is a wall-to-wall watchable movie, even if on paper it seems like it shouldn’t have worked at all. Bringing in the high profile quartet of directors was certainly a good first step – with the only one I tend to skip being Dante’s “It’s a Good Life.” I don’t know, it’s not an episode I particularly enjoy either, so I’m not blaming the way they execute it, I’m just not a huge fan of that asshole kid. It’s pretty meh.

But the other three – pretty solid. The only original story of the group – the Landis directed “Time Out” is a bit heavy-handed, but effectively lead by Vic Morrow (famously killed on the set of this film, requiring a different ending to be concocted). Spielberg’s “Kick the Can” is schmaltzy, but has always been my favorite segment, with its sadly sentimental senior citizens getting one night to be young again. But clearly they saved the stand-out sequence for the finale, as George Miller’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” surpasses the episode it’s based on (the best episode they chose to adapt, too) and gets a dynamite performance from Lithgow as the tortured passenger, seeing a monster on the wing of the plane.

Lithgow is largely not doing well

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The Set of 400: #334 – My Favorite Craps Meltdown

Today! Because if you pick up that keno card, I’ll kill you –

Lost in America (1985)

Directed by Albert Brooks

Starring Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty, Garry Marshall, Donald Gibb (x2), Michael Greene, Candy Ann Brown, Maggie Roswell

Albert Brooks has had a terrifically acclaimed career, but the path he’s taken is an odd one. He created taped segments for the first year of Saturday Night Live, had supporting roles in notable films like Taxi Driver and Broadcast News, did legendary voice work in a handful of Simpsons episodes and as Marlin in Finding Nemo/Doryand has always managed to hang around despite largely ignoring his true calling – directing movies, which he’s only done seven times.

My second favorite of those is this abortive road trip family disaster, as his ad exec David abandons corporate life and sets off with his wife to see America and live off their nest egg. This is a movie I didn’t notice until I was older – Brooks’ movies can’t much resonate with the younger set – except for the memorable if confusing VHS cover, appearing frequently in young Joe’s life at your Prime Time Videos and Blockbusters. But it is a hilarious, small film with a wonderful script, and terrific lead work by Brooks and the film’s MVP, Julie Hagerty, as his amenable, frustrated, destructive wife Linda. It’s that all-American fantasy of throwing your job in your boss’s face, storming out, and hitting the road to live the way you want – before the reality of this choice socks you and sends things spiraling apart. That being said, it still seems like a pretty fun life plan, right?

No matter how many times I pitch it, Sarah is not supportive of this life plan

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