New York Daily News By Nancy Mills
Father of the Bride Meets a Son of a …: Albert Brooks in ‘The In-Laws’
HOLLYWOOD — Albert Brooks is not pacing around his hotel room. He has two movies about to open — “The In-Laws” tomorrow and “Finding Nemo” May 30 — but angst is not piling up in little neurotic molehills.
What’s wrong with him?
“Having a wife and kids has more than mellowed me,” says Brooks, 55, who married multimedia artist Kimberly Shlain six years ago and is the father of a son (Jacob, 4 1/2) and a daughter (Claire, 3).
“To have a functioning show-business career in your 20s and 30s, you have to spend all of the time being selfish and being focused on yourself,” he says. “When you get a toe in, the greatest thing in the world now is to think about something else.”
Moviegoers will see the familiar, deadpan neurotic Brooks in the remake of “The In-Laws.”
“This is broader than I’ve gone in my own movies,” Brooks says of the six films he has written and directed, including “Modern Romance” (1981) “Lost in America” (1985) and “The Muse” (1999).
“I’ve never fallen off buildings before. I’m screaming more in this. But this character would do that, for God’s sake. He’s being kidnapped. His life is being ruined.”
In one scene, he wears a red thong.
“It gets such a giant laugh,” says Brooks, who prepared by increasing the incline on his treadmill. “It’s not because a guy is showing his butt … it’s because THAT guy is showing his butt, that podiatrist who doesn’t like to travel.
“I said to my wife, ‘When I die, if the word ‘thong’ appears in the first or second sentence of my obituary, I’ve screwed up.'”
“In-Laws” director Andrew Fleming says Brooks brings a sense of authenticity to his comedy.
“He has a way of making something funny and absolutely credible,” Fleming says. “You don’t feel like it’s shtick. You feel it comes from some resident reality — some intelligence and some observation. People respect him immensely. I think that matters, and it matters to him quite a lot.”
Brooks, who began his career as a standup comedian after dropping out of Carnegie Mellon University at 19, attracted mainstream attention 15 years ago in “Broadcast News.” But when movie roles came, he turned them down to direct his own scripts.
He credits those decisions to his personal life.
“If I had just broken up with a girlfriend,” he says, “I’d go on Johnny Carson and be extra-funny so the girl would say, ‘Gee, I shouldn’t have broken up with him.’ I always needed a person, a focus.
“Now I have somebody who loves me and loves to hear about it and see it, and it does make a huge difference.
People used to tell me, ‘Get married. You’ll get out of the house more.’
“Believe me, it’s true.”