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LOST IN AMERICA (1985)

Lost In America - CoverThe Criterion Collection’ have recently released a digitally enhanced version of ‘Lost in America’. It was directed by Albert Brooks; it starred Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty, and Garry Marshall; and it lasts for 91-minutes. Plus, as an extra added bonus, the Blu-ray edition comes with a theatrical trailer and four separate face-to-face interviews, one with Albert (the actor-director), another with Julie (the actress), and the last two with Herb Nanas (the executive producer) and James L. Brooks (the filmmaker-screenwriter).


Lost in America (The Criterion Collection)


THE STORY:
A couple of weeks ago, I had a large house, a high-paying job, and some much-needed money in the bank. But now, now I have nothing, nothing at all, apart from a brand-new RV and a crazy wife called Linda (Julie Hagerty).

Although, to be fair, Linda hasn’t always been crazy. In fact, she only started to turn crazy after I quit my job so we could drive across the country in order to find a new lease of life. Similar, in many ways, to what happened in the film, 'Easy Rider'.

You see, during our travels, the two of us decided to spend the night in a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, so we could both recharge our batteries and renew our marriage vows. But instead of doing that, we ended up losing all of our money because Linda squandered it on a game of roulette. Or was it blackjack? Anyway, whatever it was, a sizeable amount of our savings was gone, gone forever, and now, we don’t know what to do next.

I mean, should we laugh? Cry? Or just call it quits? Either way, that’s most probably why what next transpires goes from here to there when Linda turns to me and says, 'David? (Albert Brooks) I'm leaving now'. As a husband and wife go their separate ways - a punch in the face only lasts for a few days - a new lease of life evolves into a humbling phase - and when push comes to shove, please remember, getting a new job doesn’t always come with a huge raise.




THE REVIEW:
Before we begin, please allow me to make one thing perfectly clear. Yes, I did enjoy watching this movie, but only because it was funny in places, dramatic in others, and to some degree, partly - I repeat, partly - relatable. After all, I’m sure many of us have often wondered what it would be like to quit our jobs so we could travel the world in order to find ourselves, and, blah-blah-blah, yadda-yadda-yadda. Heck, I know I have, more than once in fact, and each time I’ve thought about doing this, I’ve always remembered that life, love, and the pursuit of happiness can only be found deep, deep, inside our own souls, and not by traveling from place, to place, to place, with the hope that somehow, someone, somewhere, can point us in the right direction. Or should that be, our destined direction? Either way, I’ve always liked the idea of self-exploration through travel, but at the same time, I realize that I’m the only person who can truly make me happy. Me, and nobody else. 

Lost In America - Albert Brooks and Julie Heggarty - Sad
Now, how all of this relates to ‘Lost in America’, or as I like to call it, ‘Lost in Translation: The Prequel’, largely relies on its initial set-up. A set-up, I hasten to add, that presumes we (the audience) can identify with the main characters (as archetypes) and empathize with their initial plight (to drop out of society and roam free). But if truth be told, I wasn’t able to empathize with them. Not totally, anyway, as I didn’t really understand why two people who have good jobs, a great house, and obviously love each other, very much, would want to cut loose and escape from a very privileged lifestyle. Or was that the point? Was their own privilege weighing them down and causing them to become miserable? And if that was the case, why wasn’t it explained in a little more detail prior to them setting off for pastures new?

Come to think of it, this point brings me onto something else about this film I couldn’t completely connect with either. That being, its seemingly predictable three-part narrative structure, which appeared to flow in a rather episodic step-by-step fashion. Part One, for instance, established the two main characters (David and Linda) and lay down the foundations for their adventures ahead (to leave their jobs and roam around America, all footloose and fancy-free). Part Two, on the other hand, amped things up a bit by suddenly throwing a spanner in the works (Linda loses all of their money) to see if they could continue with their initial quest (after a short break between the two main leads). And finally, Part Three, resulted in them both acknowledging the fundamental moral of this story (cherish what you have, while you still have it), before bringing them 'back home’ to where they first began (say no more). So in hindsight, I would say that the structure and the overall flow of this story were pretty predictable in their construction. Too predictable, some might say, but still enjoyable, nonetheless.


Lost In America - Albert Brooks and Julie Heggarty - Bed


I also enjoyed the basic style and design of this film (up to a point) because nigh on everything seen on screen was both aesthetically appealing and very easy to follow. This included things like, rustic panoramas of Middle America, office buildings conservatively furnished with 80s paraphernalia, as well as dimly lit casino halls, very plastic diners, and a huge RV that looked like a domesticated tank. In addition to this, the music featured throughout this film was also very complimentary. Music that was harmonic ('It's You Alone' by Gail Davies), atmospheric ('New York, New York' by Frank Sinatra), and very appropriate to the story being told ('Born to Be Wild' by Steppenwolf).

Lost In America - Movie Poster
Anyway, that’s enough of that for the time being, because now seems like a pretty good time for us to sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic facts: (1) ‘Warner Bros.’ first released this production in America on the 15th of March, 1985, and eventually clawed back $10,179,000 at the box office. (2) When he originally wrote the script for this film, Albert Brooks wanted Bill Murray to play the part of David Howard, rather than himself, because he didn’t want to take on too much work. But unfortunately, Bill had other work commitments and so Albert ended up writing, directing, and starring in this film instead. (3) The shooting for this production began on the 5th of December, 1983, and it took a total of forty-five days to complete. (4) Loosely translated, this project was entitled ‘Advertising Offered’ in Italy and ‘Relax’ in Brazil. (5) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the United States of America, including, Atlanta in Georgia, Las Cruces in New Mexico, Las Vegas in Nevada, Manhattan in New York, Washington in the District of Columbia, El Paso and Houston in Texas, Safford, Thatcher, and the Hoover Dam in Arizona, as well as Santa Clarita, Sylmar, and Los Angeles in California. (6) Garry Marshall, who played the Casino Manager in this comedy, is probably best known for producing a number of well-known television shows, such as 'Mork & Mindy', 'Happy Days', and 'Laverne & Shirley'. (7) And along similar lines, another actor featured in this film is also best known for being a producer. His name is Herb Nanas, he played the man that drove the Mercedes at the end of the movie, and throughout the years, he’s produced ‘First Blood’, ‘Rocky III’, and, yes, you guessed it, ‘Lost in America’.


Lost In America - Albert Brooks and Julie Heggarty - Casino


In closing my review of 'Lost in America', I would now like to talk about the two main stars of the show. Namely, Albert Brooks, who played David Howard, as well as Julie Hagerty, who played his wife, Linda. Or as I like to call them, that 'irritating, privileged, curly-haired git', as well as that 'doe-eyed damsel in distress' who should never, ever, gamble... and I do mean, never. 

Lost In America - Albert Brooks and Julie Heggarty - Driving
Now if truth be told, I did warm up to these two because they were fairly funny to follow and rather archetypal by nature: With the git, Albert, bringing a sense of realism to his character by emoting some sort of emotional truth. While the damsel, Julie, on the other hand, seemed far kinder in comparison and a lot more grounded. In fact, Julie's depiction of Linda seemed so kind, that it sometimes made him seem like a right schmuck, even though she did cause some of their problems!

After all, the moral of this story can be translated in either one of two ways. It's either, 'cherish what you have, while you still have it' (which I said before), or it's, 'don't believe everything you see in the movies' (from a movie). So all in all, two fairly moral messages from a fairly moral movie! A movie that was nicely directed and fun to follow, but unfortunately, wasn't always relatable.

THE RATING: B

LOST IN AMERICA (1985) LOST IN AMERICA (1985) Reviewed by David Andrews on March 29, 2021 Rating: 5

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