Mother [1970]

When Albert Brooks cast Debbie Reynolds to play his mother in this acclaimed 1996 comedy, the veteran singer-dancer-actress hadn't had a leading film role in nearly 30 years. Brooks had to pour on the charm to persuade her to make a comeback. The results were triumphant for writer-director Brooks and his on-screen mom, who earned some of the best reviews of their respective careers. The movie's about a science-fiction writer named John (Brooks), who's just weathered a second divorce and blames his failure with women on his dysfunctional relationship with his widowed mother (Reynolds). He decides that the best way to improve his romantic future is to move back in with his mother and resolve their simmering differences--a wild leap of logic that seems outrageous to John's brother (Rob Morrow), who has always been their mother's favorite son. As this domestic experiment unfolds, Brooks uses hilarious dialogue to convey a wealth of observant detail about familial tensions and annoying quirks of behavior. Mother is a movie about people who know how to push each other's buttons--all the wrong buttons--and the comedy will be recognized by anyone who's ever been exasperated by one or both of their parents. That means just about everyone, doesn't it? --Jeff Shannon

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