Lost in America [1985]

Director: Albert Brooks
Stars: Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty, Garry K. Marshall, Art Frankel, Michael Greene
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 91 minutes

It seems to lack something on first viewing--where's the third act, anyway?--but Albert Brooks's Lost in America is one of those movies that people keep quoting to each other long after they've seen it. And no one has come up with a more incisive look at the phenomenon of the '80s yuppie, a figure toward whom Brooks manages to aim both his satire and his sympathy. The bushy-haired, tightly-wound actor plays a well-paid L.A. executive who quits his job in a fit of pique when he fails to land a promotion. Armed with their savings, he and the wife (Julie Hagerty) buy a Winnebago and hit the road; they're going to search for America and find themselves. Right. They get as far as Las Vegas, where Hagerty has a little problem at the gaming tables. Brooks's rant on the concept of "the nest-egg" goes right into the comedy hall of fame, and his scene with a casino manager (Garry Marshall, underplaying beautifully) is a masterpiece of wheedling desperation. Somehow amidst the comedy, Brooks captures the panic beneath the upwardly-mobile go-go American guy, circa 1985. The open road will never be the same. --Robert Horton

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