Classic Movie Review: Lost In America (1985)

Posted: July 6, 2016 in Comedy
Tags: ,

lost in america

David Howard (Albert Brooks) works in a large advertising agency in Los Angeles, and he thinks he’s going to get a promotion, so he’s already sold his house and bought a bigger one, and he’s looking into buying a Mercedes.  David’s wife, Linda (Julie Haggerty) is a personnel director in a retail store, but she hates her job, and she’s unhappy.  David doesn’t get the promotion, and reacts so badly, he gets fired.  David talks it over with Linda and they decide they’re going to take the profits from the sale of the house, buy a Winnebago, and see the country.  But first, they’re going to go to Las Vegas, and renew their wedding vows.  In Las Vegas, Linda gambles away all but 1,000 dollars of their nest egg.  They end up in a small town in Arizona, but they’re almost out of money.  They need jobs to sustain even this meager lifestyle, what kind of jobs do they get?

Lost in America is a very funny movie.  Every time the viewer thinks that David and Linda’s situation can’t get any worse, it gets worse.  The movie is really an encapsulation and indictment of 1980’s style materialism.  There are two classic scenes in this movie, one involving Brooks and Garry Marshall as the casino owner, and one with Brooks and Julie Haggerty discussing the words nest egg.  While it is true that losing money in Vegas is a hackneyed situation comedy premise, the movie just gets funnier and funnier from that point on, and the ending is appropriate given these characters, and their motivations.

Albert Brooks is perfect for this role.  He plays a neurotic, insecure, guy perfectly, because that’s who  he is in real life.  He thinks he’s got everything all figured out, but when life throws him a few curveballs, he realizes he doesn’t have anything figured out, and he doesn’t like it, and so, he starts ranting.  Those rants make this movie a classic.  Julie Haggerty is his perfect foil in this movie, soft and mousy on the outside, internally dissatisfied, and she plays the dichotomy well. She seems to like dropping off the grid, as it’s referred to today. Or does she?  That uncertainty is what makes her character interesting.  Haggerty’s character certainly had a wider range of emotions here, than her character in the Airplane movies

Brooks, co-wrote, stars, and directs this film.  There’s nothing visually exciting about this movie, but he does keep the pace going quickly, and he gets good performances from Haggerty, Marshall, and himself, and he doesn’t drag out the film with a lot of unnecessary scenes.  It’s the perfect length for a comedy, 90 minutes.

Lost in America:  There’s no place like motor home.

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