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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 29.73%
Average: 16.22%
Pretty Bad: 5.41%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 13 user ratings

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My First Mister
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by Chris Parry

"A real tear-jerker. Top shelf stuff."
5 stars

A few years back Albert Brooks shamed himself and blemished an otherwise healthy career by writing and appearing in one of the worst movies to have ever stumbled half-drunk out of America and onto our unwitting screens. The Muse was pants. Brooks' acting in The Muse was pants. The ending of The Muse was no even pants - it was underpants. Underpants with a big skidmark on them. Are you starting to understand where I'm going with this? As I look on my old copy of the press notes that I had carried with me into the screening, I notice that I had scrawled on the back the word "crap" nearly 40 times.

The Muse is not my happy place.

But gee willickers, that Brooks boy can act up a storm when he puts his mind to it. In fact, his performance in My First Mister isn't a storm, "it's a monsoon" (with apologies to George Costanza).

In fact, if I was to sum up in one paragraph how good this film is I'd be doing it a terrible disservice. Impeccably cast, impeccably scripted, impeccably scored, well directed, and performed with the sort of perfection reserved for very few, My First Mister is the kind of movie Hollywood just can't make. Where this leads you down an unknown road of emotional turmoil, Hollywood would announce every emotion with a blazing piano in the background and overlong close-ups of too-pretty people. Where My First Mister uses humour to lighten the audience's load, Hollywood would use a happy ending and formula plot devices that would leave most viewers dissatisfied.

LeeLee Sobieski must not be overlooked for praise in her role here. Sobieski has been called the next big thing for a heck of a long time after roles in Deep Impact, Joan of Arc and Eyes Wide Shut (and one that I won't name because it was so bad - after this film, she deserves to have that little blemish forgiven).

Sobieski plays a teenage goth, angry at the world, obsessed with the dead, in a life slump. She's a dude in flux. Brooks is a middle aged men's store manager, content in his life of early bedtimes and comfy cardigans. But when these two unlikely people actually get past appearances and start to talk, they find they have more in common than they could have imagined.

Despite the awful title, My First Mister is a ripsnorter of a film. Constantly changing direction from outright comedy to romance to family drama and back again, it's a never-ending stream of surprising performances and realistic, humanistic, supercalafragalistic dialogue. Sobieski's goth character is one of the few such creatures that have been accurately protrayed on film in my recent memory. It's odd that with so many young people taking part in the goth scene, that it has taken so long for one to be portrayed non-stereotypically, but much of that has to do with Sobieski's nuances and charm. This kid just knows how to act, in much the same way that Natalie Portman does. It's effortless for her, and while many of her age bracket come across a little too knowing (Kirsten Dunst, take a bow), Sobieski never turns the heat up too much. She instead unleashes an emotional torrent that is quickly contracted by the audience. When LeeLee's tears flow, the hardiest of souls will find it hard not to share the feelings. And that's where Brooks comes in.

Albert Brooks can do comedy, we know that well enough. Anyone who recalls his turn in Braodcast News also knows he can turn on the drama when required, and in this film he toes the line between hilarious and real with astonishing expertise. When the audience is feeling the pain of these two and their destructive lives, Brooks drops an easy oneliner that tears the place apart. I'm not talking easy as in simple humour, I'm talking easy as in effortless. The man, when he isn't trying to be Joe Hollywood, is a loveable old lug.

My First Mister will be a huge success, in my humble opinion. It's just too good to go by unnoticed. If supported by a distributor (the film has been purchased by Paramount), it will not only do well, but it will make Good Will Hunting-like money and launch Ms. Sobieski on the career rocket she's been waiting for.

First time feature director Christine Lahti has got one thing right - she knows that a good film consists of a good script and better cast. Here, she's got it right on both counts, and a lot more besides.

The one potential drawback is that with performances this good, the distributors will likely hold on to the film until it's time for the next Oscars to roll around - Christmas 2001. Still, it's worth the wait. One last piece of advice - change the name. This one sucks.

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originally posted: 01/26/01 19:25:12
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User Comments

10/19/12 raouljohn An Excellent movie by all those involved in it. 5 stars
8/16/12 raouljohn !st Class entertainment 5 stars
1/30/10 the dork knight Superb acting and dialog saves a contrived story 4 stars
2/01/09 Delphi It's a modernized version of 'Breezy' - except Breezy is 'J' and there's lotsa twists, 5 stars
11/09/06 DarkEnchantress Great movie, and very funny indeed 5 stars
4/05/04 X Amazing. <3 5 stars
11/28/03 Phil M. Aficionado Agree w/ some criticisms, but still this is an excellent effort, well acted. 4 stars
10/22/03 Chris this is a great honest movie. with plenty of real moments. the best i have seen in a while! 5 stars
7/29/03 IndianaChick I knew the destination of the movie but I loved the ride. 4 stars
2/03/03 AustinTXGirl Loved the music, Liked the movie 4 stars
5/20/02 The Bomb 69 should have been better, Lahti laid on the syrup a little too thick 2 stars
12/26/01 skye i hated this, butiwasfaroutnumberedbythepeoplethatlikeobviousandmanipulatingcrap 2 stars
10/27/01 Jimmy James definitely worth seeing 4 stars
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