I have to say that "Mother" remains my favorite movie from writer/director/actor Albert Brooks. There's scenes throughout this movie that are simply priceless. Brooks plays John Henderson, a b-grade sci-fi novelist who can't seem to come up with an idea for a sequel to his previous outing. He thinks that everything that's going wrong in his life revolves around the problems that he has with his mother Beatrice(Debbie Reynolds). In an early sequence, he gives her a call to discuss the status of his life. After telling him how much she loves him, John replies, "I know you think you do."
He goes back to live with his mother, even re-creating his old bedroom, much to the distress of his brother, Jeff(Rob Morrow). There's really not a great deal of plot to take "Mother" along, but it's the pleasure of seeing two great actors as their best working with a screenplay that sets up gem after gem of wonderfully funny sequences. Brooks makes these scenes embarassing, but sweetly so - we don't cringe as Beatrice embarasses he son by talking about his marital failure or dissaproves of things like his not eating meat. Reynolds' performance is subtle, witty and intelligent and remains the perfect opposition to Brooks' performance, which remains his best in recent years. Although I enjoyed "The Muse", it's not nearly as consistently funny as this picture.
The lines and scenes in "Mother" have a feeling as if they've been worked on, reworked, and fine-toned more. The result takes events that would be otherwise nothing new and takes them down to their most pure comedic moments. It's not a matter of waiting for another great scene, either - if not every single scene in "Mother" works, there's at least constant attempts. Arguing in the grocery store over whether or not his mother treats herself to finer things rather than going for the most basic items, John states, "we're in the 90's mother, it's fancy jam time." As she should treat herself to the finer things, those who missed "Mother" in theaters should treat themselves to this intelligent, often hilarious comedy.
VIDEO: Paramount presents "Mother" in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and it's anamorphic, as well. It's not Paramount's best work, but I was pleased with the great majority of it. Sharpness and detail are usually fine; some scenes seemed the slightest bit soft, but still smooth and generally well-defined.
Flaws popped up occasionally - although they never became terribly distracting, print flaws appeared in the form of some minor marks and speckles. Most of the film remained free of such wear, though. Pixelation and slight shimmer was visible as well, although rarely. Flesh tones are accurate and natural, as well.
Colors remained enjoyable, although not remarkable. Much of the indoor sequences have warm colors, and some of the outdoor sequences offer some enjoyably crisp, natural colors as these scenes offer some beautiful scenery. Generally a good job from Paramount.
SOUND: Although Brooks' movies are certainly not requiring of agressive sound design, although they usually take themselves a step or two above the usual "comedy audio". They achieve this by giving Marc Shaiman's perky, warm score a consistently lively presence in the sound, with the surrounds also occasionally offering the music as well. When you break it down though, a movie like this certainly has to put the dialogue front and center, and it sounds natural and clear here, with every great line sounding perfect and easily heard.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with very basic images serving as backgrounds. The option for the trailer is located on the main menu, thankfully. If there's only going to be a trailer as the extra, at least Paramount didn't make a special features menu simply for it.
Positive: Although Paramount hasn't done anything particularly special with the DVD, "Mother" remains, in my opinion, one of the best and most intelligent comedies of the past few years. It's worth a look, certainly as at least a rental.
Negative: Although I suppose I can understand if Paramount had difficulty rounding up supplemental features, this is a wonderful movie where it would have been appreciated to have additional materials.
The Film *** 1/2
Video 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Audio: 87/B = (348/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 83/B = (249/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: *** 1/2
DVD GRADE: B