“Albert Brooks: Defending My Life,” a documentary concerning the venerable comic, filmmaker, actor and author, directed by his lifelong buddy Rob Reiner, has the straightforward, amiable air of a profession retrospective — wistful and hagiographic, it’s the type of factor that normally accompanies a lifetime achievement award.
Now 76, Brooks actually deserves the popularity: the primary 4 of the movies he wrote and directed between 1979 and 2005, “Actual Life,” “Fashionable Romance,” “Misplaced in America” and “Defending Your Life,” are among the many best American comedies ever made, and his trailblazing work on the late-night discuss present circuit through the Sixties and Seventies had a seismic impression on the panorama of up to date comedy. (To say nothing of his Academy Award-nominated flip in “Broadcast Information,” a near-peerless masterpiece.)
However there’s a motive we’ve comedy roasts, not toasts, because the rhapsodic tone of this movie makes clear — breathless flattery simply isn’t that fascinating, regardless of how humorous the individual receiving it. Whereas Brooks deserves acclaim, he deserves it in a format as compelling and dynamic as he’s. “Defending My Life” is just too flat.
Brooks and Reiner, lounging in a sales space at Matteo’s Restaurant in Los Angeles, reminisce chummily about Brooks’s life and work, whereas an ensemble of comedy A-listers together with Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Larry David gush over his affect in a collection of standard-issue speaking head interviews. There are additionally clips from Brooks’s movies and standup routines, which render a lot of the reward from the interviewees redundant. We don’t have to be instructed that Brooks is a genius. Even a short glimpse of his work makes the case.
Albert Brooks: Defending My Life
Not rated. Operating time: 1 hour 28 minutes. Watch on Max.