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Lost in America

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Lost in America

Starring: Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty
Director: Albert Brooks
Rated: R
RunTime: 91 Minutes
Release Date: May 1985
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Maggie Roswell, Garry Marshall, Michael Greene, Tom Tarpey, Art Frankel

Review by Andrew Hicks
3 stars out of 4

LOST IN AMERICA is commonly considered to be Albert Brooks' crowning triumph, but I place it third, behind DEFENDING YOUR LIFE and MOTHER. I've seen it twice and still don't consider it the four-star masterpiece Roger Ebert made it out to be. What it does have is the trademark Brooks meld of intellectual humor, cultural satire and mid-life angst. I have a feeling that, if this guy ever does figure out how to be happy in life, we'll be out some good movies.

Brooks plays a lower-upper class yuppie who seems to have it all. He's got a successful job in advertising and is in line for a promotion, he's about to move into a million-dollar house, has put a down payment on a Mercedes and he's married to Julie Hagerty, the AIRPLANE! chick, and she's successful in her career. So, of course, neither of them are happy. Their lives are boring, predictable, mundane. They never found themselves as young adults.

These doubts about their role in corporate America come to the surface when Brooks is passed over for the promotion he was counting on. The company is transferring Brooks instead, and he blows up at the boss in one of the movie's best scenes. He gets fired and finally adopts a screw-it attitude toward responsibility. His line of thought is forget the new house, forget the new car and forget work. He and Hagerty have a nest egg of a couple hundred thousand saved up, and decide to invest in a Winnebago.

It's time to throw away convention and live from day to day, meandering across the country going wherever their hearts take them, "like in EASY RIDER." In a comedy, of course, things never turn out like they're supposed to, so the journey soon becomes a disaster when they stay at a Las Vegas hotel to renew their vows and Hagerty gambles away the nest egg while Brooks sleeps.

LOST IN AMERICA, with its EASY RIDER Winnebago premise, would appear to be a wacky travelogue movie. But no, it's not ALBERT BROOKS' VACATION. After the loss of the nest egg, things get sidetracked pretty quick. It's refreshing to see a movie where the protagonists don't get their money back at the end and don't get what they want. If there's any complaint about LOST IN AMERICA, it's that Brooks allows us too little satisfaction. In MOTHER and DEFENDING YOUR LIFE, Brooks compromises his acid wit to please the audience, but not here. The happy ending just kind of got lost... yes, in America.

Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks

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