Lost In America
Directed by Albert Brooks
Papa Villone asserts that "If you can manage to find more than four memorable quotes in a film, its a classic of some sort." Well, Albert Brooks 1985 film Lost In America is so stocked with great quotes that its off Papas meter:
"MERCEDES leather? Whats MERCEDES leather?"
"Ive seen the future and its a bald man from New York!"
"I like Wayne Newton. Are you saying IM a schmuck?"
"You cant even SAY the word egg any more. When you go into the woods you see a birds round stick. For breakfast you have THINGS with ham."
"Im losing my right eye." "What?" "Im losing my right eye." "What?"
"An adult should NOT get a bloody nose."
This film is hysterical. I watched it over at Caseys house for the first time a few days ago. Casey said hed already seen it five or six times and now I know why. Director, writer and star Albert Brooks has created the perfect yuppie comedy. An advertising executive in his thirties who is on the verge of buying a new house for he and his wife, which hes hoping to coincide with his long-awaited promotion to vice president, is called into his bosses office and learns that not only isnt he getting the promotion, all hes getting is a lateral transfer (from their LA office to their New York offices). In probably the finest job- quitting scene in the history of film, Brooks explodes in the most acerbic, articulate way everybody has always dreamed of when realizing all their years of hard work mean nothing.
He leaves his job, talks his wife (Julie Haggerty) into quitting hers, and they decide to "find themselves" on the open road "just like Easy Rider." They sell EVERYTHING, buy a Winnebago and STILL have about 150,000 dollars to their name and head to Vegas. Brooks qualifies himself every time he has to deal with someone: "Hi, uh, my wife and I have dropped out of society, and..." They have enough money, he conservatively estimates, to stay on the road for the rest of their lives. Thats before she loses their nest egg at the roulette table. Brooks the adman tries to talk the casino owner (Garry Marshall) into giving back the money. It doesnt work, but Brooks keeps pushing, trying to sell the casino on improving its image. ("Im a high-paid advertising consultant. These are professional opinions youre getting.") There are other great scenes, as the desperate couple tries to find work to support themselves: An interview with an unemployment counselor, who listens, baffled, to Brooks explaining why he left a $100,000-a-year job because he couldnt "find himself." And Brooks wife introducing her new boss, a teenage boy.
The funniest aspect of the film, though, is the element of materialistic panic Brooks is able to squeeze out of his character. This is a man who seriously needs to get stoned on a regular basis: Hes a typical A-type, potential heart-attack victim: he makes a lot of money (80K!!), but not enough; who lives in a big house, but is outgrowing it; who drives an expensive car, but not a Mercedes-Benz; who is a top executive, but not a vice president. In short, he is a desperate man, trapped by his own expectations.
See this with your friend from Microsoft who got hired fresh out of high school. When the films over, ask him if hes ever rolled cigars on the naked thighs of brown beauties laying underneath Cassiopeia on the Day of the Dead in the hills of San Miguel de Allende.