- Movie Rating -

All of Me (1984)

| September 21, 1984

I haven’t done a thorough study of this, but I think that All of Me represents the first Steve Martin comedy in which the plot was written first.  Many of his previous films The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains and The Lonely Guy, I think the script was written around Martin’s abilities for mimicry and slapstick.  Here, with the plot written first, the slapstick has more weight and it’s a lot funnier too.

Martin plays Roger Cobb, a frustrated lawyer who is taking whatever cases that he can get in order to get a much-needed promotion, including dealing with the impossible Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin).  She’s one of those obscenely rich spinsters who is, by all movie terms, about to die.  Cobb can only roll his eyes when he realizes that she is one of those nut-cases who believes in weird kind of mysticism and has swamis and spiritualists and prognosticators waiting in the wings. 

Edwina is about to die and her exit strategy is insane: She will have the swami Praka Lasa (Richard Libertini) put her soul into a brass bowl and then pour it into another woman.  Roger thinks that this is as insane as we do, but since this is a screwball comedy, things don’t go as planned.  The bowl containing Edwina’s soul is knocked across the room and enters the right half of Roger’s body.  That means that she controls the left side and he controls the right side, and since they hate each other, there is a battle for control.

This gives license for Martin to do all manner of physical comedy while we hear Edwina inside of Roger’s mind and see her reflection when he looks in the mirror.  The first scene of Martin on the street battling with Tomlin for control over his body is comedy gold as he pushes and pulls himself back and forth.  She needs him to go one way, and he needs to go another.  The great thing is, there’s context so that we are laughing twice.  We are laughing at the situation and at Martin’s physical comedy.

All of Me does everything is can with this premise, particularly the parts where Roger would rather be alone, moments like having sex or visiting the john.  What develops is an interesting sort of comic rapport as the two have to learn to live together, so to speak and the idea that men and women don’t think alike so how do they coexist in the same body?  Eventually they not only have to work together but they have to learn to respect each other and that’s where All of Me takes on a certain sweetness.  It begins and a goofy comedy, and it ends as a human comedy.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy