All of Me (1984)

4 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Steve Martin continued to show his skill as a highly acceptable comic actor in 1984’s “All of Me.” “All of Me” has a risky idea—having Lily Tomlin possess the right side of Steve Martin’s body while he controls his left side. The reason that is risky is because Lily Tomlin is a great comedienne and Steve Martin hadn’t been fully appreciated at the time this was made. And since Lily Tomlin is mainly inside Steve Martin, we see more of Martin than we want to, right? In this case, wrong. Lily Tomlin (whose voice is heard a lot) does show up when Steve Martin looks in the mirror and they have their own conversations. But in the meantime, Steve Martin is such a great presence that we love watching him control his own body.

Steve Martin learned to relax a little bit this time, since his over-the-top goofiness in “The Jerk” (directed from the same man who directed “All of Me”—Carl Reiner). Here, he plays Roger Cobb, a hotshot attorney who is unhappy because he is reaching middle-age. Roger will do anything to get a promotion (although bringing his dog to work shouldn’t help, it almost does in the case of his boss). But then he meets Edwina Cutwater (Tomlin), a dying rich woman who wants to live forever (or rather, have a new better life). Roger is to get her affairs in order but he thinks that she’s crazy. She, on the other hand, is confident enough to shun lesser people down.

Edwina hires a guru of transmigration (Richard Libertini) to put her soul into the body of a young, attractive British woman Terry Hoskins (Victoria Tennant). But during the process, something goes wrong and Edwina accidentally winds up in Roger’s body. But she doesn’t control his whole body. Roger is still alive and he controls his left side while Edwina controls the right. This brings a series of misunderstandings, confusion, goofiness, and big laughs. In the scene where it has happened, Roger and Edwina fight for control over Roger’s body as if playing a game of tug-of-war. That’s a very funny scene.

As Roger and Edwina figure a way out of this mess, there are many other great scenes. Some of them may be obligatory but they’re still funny—for example, when Roger has to go to the bathroom, he needs Edwina to help him. Many other scenes showcase Steve Martin’s wonderful physical comic talent. We believe he really is fighting for control over his body—watch that scene I mentioned in the above paragraph and you’ll see what I mean. Steve Martin is great in this movie. He doesn’t go for the obvious physical jokes either (and neither does the script, which is funny and sweet at the same time)—he has learned to control himself a little more, so to speak.

Lily Tomlin is still with us—we just don’t see her as much. We hear her voice most of the time and we see her whenever Roger looks into a mirror and sees her instead of his own reflection. It’s fun to watch them mimic each other’s moves. Also, when Martin is alone, we never feel that Tomlin has left us.

The writing is very good. By the end of the movie, we have laughed and now we feel something for the characters. There are big laughs and genuine sweetness by the time the movie is over. What I also liked were the members of the supporting cast of characters—especially the guru who is learning how to get by in America. His scenes are hilarious and get even better with he’s with Martin, who is desperately trying to communicate with him while the guru is trying to comprehend. I also liked the character of Ty (Jason Bernard), who is a black, blind musician and Martin’s friend and partner.

“All of Me” is a very good comedy—funny, charming, sweet, and fantastic.

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