WHO BETTER TO ASSESS ALBERT BROOKS’ MOTHER THAN ALBERT BROOKS’ MOTHER? THELMA BERNSTEIN TELLS US HOW CREATIVE HER YOUNGEST SON REALLY IS.
Entertainment Weekly Review by Thelma Bernstein, Lois Alter Mark
Although I don’t feel Mother (1996, Paramount, PG-13, $101.99) is about me, the first thing I did after seeing the movie was run to my freezer. Not that I had an eight-pound hunk of cheese in there like the mother in the film, but I must tell you, the next day it was a lot emptier. I do buy ice cream and sherbet in large quantities–I never know if someone’s going to come in or if I’m going to need it–and I opened one box and saw a little “protective ice.” I couldn’t believe it. That box went right down the drain.
Albert called me one day soon after I’d seen the movie, and my call waiting came in, and you know what? I didn’t pick it up. Knowing that half the country laughed over the trailer featuring that scene, I just didn’t want to deal with it.
The relationship between a son and his mother is a difficult subject to begin with–I can’t think of any other movie with that story line–but Albert is so real, and I think that’s what comes across.
Albert and I have always had a wonderful relationship, but he’s very deep and it’s hard to really know what he’s thinking. This movie gave me insights into his feelings and has brought us even closer.
I can’t think of any reason he would have felt the way he does toward the brother in the film. Albert wasn’t jealous when I recently went to visit my middle son, Robert [comedic daredevil Super Dave Osborne], in Canada. And my oldest son, Clifford, is quite brilliant–I always say he’s the most brilliant of all. I’m very grateful to have a good relationship with all three of my children.
I feel I’ve lived so many lives. Well before Albert was born, I was a singing actress. [Brooks’ father was the radio comedian Parkyakarkus.] I did a couple of pictures that were on TV a few years ago [The Toast of New York and New Faces of 1937, using the stage name Thelma Leeds]. Albert never expressed any surprise, but I guess something must have inspired the part in the movie when the son begins to see his mother as who she is–as a person, not just his mother.
Debbie Reynolds did a beautiful job as the mother. I was so sorry she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar because she played the part with such restraint and in such a loving way, she was absolutely perfect. I think because she wasn’t her old boisterous self, people didn’t realize what she had accomplished. Debbie was cute in real life, too–she kept saying we should get Albert and Carrie [Reynolds’ daughter, Carrie Fisher] together.
Although he claims to have women trouble in the movie, Albert has dated more than I know. I once told him, “I’d like to see you married before I die.” Thank God he’s happily married now. Mother is about a man who believes he must figure out his relationship with his mother before he can enter into a lasting relationship with a woman, and Albert got engaged right after shooting this movie. Isn’t that the funniest timing? A+++