All of Me Reviews
Martin is at his genial best here, and with Lily Tomlin as his co-star, the picture has a certain old Hollywood charm to it that was so desperately missing in so many other comedies of the era. With Carl Reiner as director and the nostalgic soundtrack, the film really is something special, and Martin himself has rarely been better.
The story, as with all of these movies, is completely preposterous, but the screenplay finds laughs in how the transference would affect everyday, ordinary situations like walking or going to the bathroom. Those are two of the best scenes here. The script is so much better than that, however, getting a lot of big laughs through a number of clever one-liners. Although Tomlin doesn't get as much screen time, she's a delight as well.
The story gets a little bogged down in the end, as the duo race to get the heiress' soul into the right body and the laughs dry up a bit. Until then, however, "All of Me" is a splendid throwback to the screwball comedies of the '30's and '40's with a decidedly modern twist. The leads make a terrific pair, but it really is Martin's turn to shine in this outrageous, unrestrained performance that calls to mind the best of the silent movie era. In fact, the entire movie has a definite wistful feel about it.
This is where Steve Martin and Victoria Tennant met, on the set of this movie. The fact that their two characters keep missing opportunities to go to bed with one another is just an amusing side note to it. I don't know why they ended up getting divorced, and I don't really care. It's just interesting to note that the relationship started with the pair of them playing people who weren't quite what they appeared to be. Then again, I think that's what people do all the time. Even after we've known people for years, there are still secret parts of our souls that we keep hidden. This movie, of course, does not touch on the deeper meanings of things, because it's a dumb comedy and knows its limits. However, it does take Atticus Finch at his word when he said that the best way to get to know someone is to climb inside their skin and walk around for a while. I'd even suggest that both people learn something from it. But again, what effect it had on the Martin/Tennant marriage, I cannot say.
Roger Cobb (Martin) is a junior associate in a law firm. He's worked there for seven years, and his career doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Then one day, his employer, Burton Schuyler (Dana Elcar) sends him to the estate of the wealthy Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin). Edwina has been in poor health her entire life. She's been told she's dying many times, but this time, she actually is. She has asked to draw up a new will, naming Terry Hoskins (Tennant) as her sole beneficiary. The plan, however, is for guru Prakha Lasa (Richard Libertini) to release Terry's soul to the Infinite and put Edwina's soul in Terry's body. Edwina will then live a life where she can walk and ride and dance and such. Naturally, something goes wrong. No one's soul is released to the Infinite, and Edwina's soul gets transferred into Roger's body. This is not what anyone wanted. Roger is also trying to improve his career by representing his boss in a messy matrimonial dispute. His girlfriend, Peggy (Madolyn Smith Osborne), is also his boss's daughter, and she sides with her mother.
There is, of course, something horribly depressing about the idea of someone's only mourners being medical supply companies. One rather wonders how Edwina met the guru. We need him there for plot purposes, but he doesn't make a lick of sense logically. The doctor (Peggy Feury), okay. Terry is the daughter of Fred (Eric Christmas), the groom. Who, incidentally, is about the most sympathetic character in the whole movie. But Edwina doesn't know anyone who doesn't work for her in some way. I suppose we must assume that one of them brought in the guru. Yes, one of the only people Roger seems close to is his secretary, Margo (Selma Diamond), but there's also Old Blind Jazz Man Tyrone Wattell (Jason Bernard), and at least he has a job which lets him get out and have a secretary. Roger says that Edwina appears to have forgotten to hire any mourners, and she thinks it will surprise him to find out that she has no friends. It was rather his point, I thought.
This is a quip-heavy movie. It's okay that the plot doesn't make sense. It's not important anyway. It's there to give us something to hang one-liners from. It's almost more of a premise. Which does mean that this is one of those movies where the question isn't what your favourite scene is. It's what your favourite line is. (I'm partial to the one early on where Roger says he has no intention of sharing his body, and someone tells him that everyone is going to be disappointed.) You can't really sympathize with any of the characters. You aren't really meant to. (Except, again, Terry's father, who is hurt by what he thinks is going to happen and then hurt by what he is told will happen instead.) The guru is a crude stereotype, but it seems okay given that so is everyone else. Neither men nor women in this movie are spared being singularly unpleasant. The doctor seems okay, and Tyrone is inherently decent. Fred wants what's best for his daughter. But everyone else, really, is broken in ways that are funny. And some of those ways are funny in a script-padding way, because the main story doesn't have a full ninety-three minutes of material.
Still, this is back when Steve Martin made funny movies. He wasn't worried about being family-friendly then. This is not to say that I support obscenity for the sake of obscenity. It's that Steve Martin isn't really even making "family films" that are worth watching. I think the belief is that what he did worked in [i]Parenthood[/i], so he should keep doing it. However, what I think Steve Martin has always done best is humour with some intelligence to it. He's a smart guy, after all. Even going back to the days of his old stand-up. In fact, this movie may be one of the exceptions to the general principle that he shouldn't appear in movies he hasn't written. (An exception the other way is the [i]Pink Panther[/i] movies.) I like watching him interact with Stephen Colbert, where Martin's dry sense of humour comes to the front. I just wish he'd be in movies where I thought, "Hey, I should go see that in the theatre."