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Albert Brooks may be best known as Marlin, “the adorable clownfish” from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, or the sweaty reporter from Broadcast News, a role that won him his only Oscar nomination.
But he’s also starred in, written and directed seven often-acclaimed films, all of which will surface on Netflix for the first time starting Friday, where they’ll be available to U.S. subscribers.
Brooks’ output covers a 26-year span from 1979’s Real Life, a spoof of the seminal 1973 PBS reality program An American Family, to 2005’s Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, and also included better known titles such as Lost in America, Modern Romance and Defending Your Life, with Meryl Streep, celebrating its 25th anniversary. In many, he plays neurotic characters in showbiz coping with professional or relationship woes.
But until now, the movies have been available only on cable channels or for purchase or rental on iTunes or Amazon Prime Video.
What changed? Though he’s no advocate of kidnapping, Brooks dryly jokes in a promotional video, “picking the right child, from the right executive, had a very good result.” And he’s pleased that a younger generation who may only know his voice from Nemo or Dory, “can now see that I have had a very interesting life out of the water.” (His voice also can be heard in The Secret Life of Pets, out next week).
“Albert Brooks and his films have been a huge influence on American comedy,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer and a big Brooks fan, in a statement. “His innovative early short films and comedy albums led to a body of film work that thrives in the culture and keeps us laughing today. We are proud to have our U.S. Netflix members revisit these great works and to help introduce Brooks’ comedies to the next generation of fans.”
The full slate:
- Real Life (1979): In his directorial debut, Brooks plays a documentary filmmaker who lives with, and films, a dysfunctional family for an entire year.
- Modern Romance (1981): Brooks plays a film editor having relationship issues with his patient girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold).
- Lost in America (1985): A married couple (Brooks, Julie Hagerty), inspired by Easy Rider, quit their jobs, sell their house and set out in their Winnebago to explore the country and re-examine their lives.
- Defending Your Life (1991): Brooks’ character dies and arrives in the afterlife, where he learns he must stand trial to justify his fears before advancing to the next phase of his existence, or else be sent back to Earth to live it again.
- Mother (1996): Here he plays a neurotic sci-fi writer, in the midst of his second divorce, who moves in with his mom (Debbie Reynolds) to better understand why his relationships failed.
- The Muse (1999): Brooks plays a Hollywood screenwriter with a dry spell, so his friend recommends a muse (Sharon Stone) who can inspire him. But she comes at a steep price.
- Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (2005): In his most recent effort as writer-director, Brooks is sent by the U.S. government to India and Pakistan to issue a report on what the followers of Islam find funny.