ALL OF ME
US, 1984, 93 minutes, Colour.
Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Victoria Tennant.
Directed by Carl Reiner.
All of Me is an excellent Steve Martin comedy. It is his fourth with director Carl Reiner: The Jerk, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Man With Two Brains. Reiner and Martin work very well in terms of serious comedy, understated humour, mine and mimicry.
Lily Tomlin co-stars (in one of her eccentric performances, very funny) as a dying woman who wants to be reincarnated - but the process half succeeds when she finds herself inside Martin's body - arguing with him, partly controlling him, clashing. The results are very funny - but also have some serious comment on male and female stereotypes. Victoria Tennant is a cool blonde villainess. Richard Libertini (Sharkey's Machine, Unfaithfully Yours) is excellent as a Tibetan guru.
A happy blend of the serious and the hilariously funny.
1. An amusing and satisfying comedy? The basic idea - preposterous, clever, funny? A Steve Martin vehicle?
2. The title, the song and its use, the play on words with reference to Roger and Edwina?
3. The potential of the idea: death, transmigration of souls, one person possessing another? Life and its disappointments, a new start? The wealthy and the poor? The effect of interaction on people's lives, split personalities?
4. The imaginative potential of the idea: doing it? What if ... ? - and fantasy?
5. Steve Martin and his skill at making the character credible, both seriously and humorously? His ability at mime, mimicry, timing, slapstick comedy?
6. Roger at 38: himself, career, his life in a hurry (twisting the neck of the man in the box at court), enjoying his music, falling asleep, his companionship with his dog, Peggy and her brisk birthday wishes and the grave post gift? His job, stances, relationship with his secretary? His black musician friend and his having to make decisions? A sketch of the American male?
7. Edwina and her wealth, age, spoilt, dying, the comedy of her tantrums, her entourage (and none of then at her memorial services or funeral), her attacking Roger, the idiocy of her plan and her belief in it, her attack on Roger, at the office of the lawyer, her dying - and the ceremony, the pot?
8. The basic situation: its credibility, the build-up to it, reactions, comedy? Roger and Edwina in the one body? Male and female movements, manners of speaking? Their conflict with each other? Talking to each other? Acting independently? The right and the left side control? Seeing one another via the mirror? The build-up of comedy, the toilet sequence, the assistant lawyer and his puzzle, the discussions with Schuyler about his divorce, the black musician's acceptance of the situation, each going to sleep, the sexual encounter with Terri and Edwina’s reaction, the waking up in the morning, the exercise, Edwina feeling the exhilaration of being able to move? The court case and Roger asleep, the humour with Edwina trying to be a man and a lawyer? Her ruining of the case? Confusion? The memorial service, the funeral and Edwina's being touched? The second sexual encounter with Terri and the two discussing the sexual reactions? The truth about Terri? The plan, the entry into her property, Edwina in the jug of water, in the pot, the water thrown on the flowers, her entering the negro musician? The dilemma and the confrontation with Terri - and the happy final solution for all? The quality of the humour with their talk, arguing, male and female characteristics, antagonism and understanding, coping, affection?
9. The effect on Roger - changing, seeming crazy, the truth about himself, affection, Peggy, Schuyler, his career, Terri, the guru, the happy ending with Edwina and the exhilaration of the final dancing?
10. The effect on Edwina - widening her narrow vision, making her do generous and selfless things, humanising her, learning? Her happy dancing?
11. Terri and her background, Fred's daughter, her beauty, the plan, her professed belief in it, her sexual lure of Roger, paying off the guru, her cruelty, love for her horse, the party and the socialites, forcing her father to socialise? The police and her going to prison? Her deciding to go into the horse?
12. Schuyler - his unexpected agreements with Roger, the amorous lawyer, his wife, daughter, the divorce case, the many women, his reaction to the court scene, his assistant and his insinuating against Roger?
13. Peggy, birthday wishes, her control, disillusionment with Roger in overhearing the conversation, her meanness?
14. The guru - and the satire on eastern religions and styles in the Peter Sellers' vein?
15. The black musician and his friendship, helping in the plan?
16. Roger's secretary and her enjoyably deadpan techniques?
17. Themes of the meaning of life, male and female, relationships, not living up to expectations? A funny but serious fable?