10.12.2013

All of Me (1984)


All of Me (1984)

I love a screwball comedy but they can be tricky fare. Too much slapstick and the story loses its sparkle, reckless pace and wit. Not enough off-the-wall antics and saccharine moments can ruin all the fun. In recent decades only a few movies have managed the kind of timeless magic that the classics like Bringing Up Baby and Some Like it Hot so exemplified. What's Up Doc? comes to mind. So does All of Me.


Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin) has been sick all her life. Filthy rich, she's never had the chance to enjoy her money. She has a plan to cheat death involving a swami, a magic bowl and swapping souls at the moment of her death with the gardener's daughter, Terry (Victoria Tennant). All she needs is to change her will, leaving all her money to Terry first. She summons the head of her law firm to the big house, but he's embroiled in a messy divorce and dispatches instead his daughter's boyfriend and would-be-partner in the law firm, Roger Cobb (Steve Martin).

Roger has been straddling life. He wants to be a musician, but he wants a lawyer's paycheck. He's dating the boss's daughter and she thinks jazz is stupid. His boss doesn't respect him because he refuses to commit fully to the firm and the Cutwater assignment seems like a sign to Take Life Seriously. Except what Edwina wants is outright Looney Tunes. He outrages Edwina by refusing to help her, is fired from the law firm, Edwina passes on, the swami gets the chant wrong, the bowl flies out a window and suddenly Edwina and Roger have to get along. Very, very intimately.

The result is Steve Martin channeling Lily Tomlin in just half his body. One scene is three hysterical minutes of trying to walk across a sidewalk. Another is meta layers of Steve Martin doing Lily Tomlin doing Steve Martin doing Lily Tomlin trying to act like a guy. Through clever uses of mirrors and water even though Edwina has died, she remains in the movie. There are romantic overtones between Roger and Edwina, but movies end as they begin, and both were looking for happiness, not love, and that is their story.

For the parents, though there is no bad language in the movie, there are definitely a couple of adult situation scenes (hilarious!) that make it inappropriate for the under thirteen crowd. It's rated PG, but if released today it would be PG-13.

There are improbable twists and turns, villainy and red herrings throughout. All in all, All of Me is a worthy addition to the screwball comedy list. Like all of its kind, it is as refreshingly funny now as it was at its first release.

All of Me (1984) at IMDB

One-Line Summary All of Me (1984): A comedic cosmic pairing of Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin yields a unique screwball comedy with great quips, memorable scenes and a very satisfying outcome.
What's It Worth? All of Me (1984): Grab the DVD for your screwball comedy collection.
Watch it Again? All of Me (1984):  It's fun and lighthearted in a cynical world, and I remain surprised how many quips have crept into my everyday speech from repeated viewings. Cooking? Put it "back-in-bowl..."