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  All of Me In Touch With His Feminine Side
Year: 1984
Director: Carl Reiner
Stars: Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Victoria Tennant, Madolyn Smith, Richard Libertini, Dana Elcar, Jason Bernard, Selma Diamond, Eric Christmas, Gailard Sartain, Neva Patterson, Michael Ensign, Peggy Feury, Nan Martin, Basil Hoffman, Hedley Mattingly
Genre: Comedy, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Roger Cobb (Steve Martin) is a lawyer, though not as successful in his position as he would like as he feels he gets fobbed off with the minor cases by his boss, Burton Schuyler (Dana Elcar). Burton's daughter Peggy (Madolyn Smith) happens to be Roger's girlfriend, but even that gives him no leverage in the firm as he is expected to do what he is told because he wouldn't want to jeopardise either his prospects at work or his relationship with her. Today is his birthday, and Peggy has brought her present around to his apartment, an African grave-post, but being 38 years old holds no joy for him, and not even his jazz band hobby cheers him. What to do?

Well, there is one solution to Roger's problems, but he isn't going to like it much even if in the long run it all works out for him nicely. All of Me was the last of the comedies Martin made with director Carl Reiner, here working from a script by future Field of Dreams scribe Phil Alden Robinson based on a novel by Edwin Davis, but was not perhaps the most accomplished of them, because the star was tied down to a story that was considerably more plot-driven than their previous collaborations. This meant a lot of Martin acting like a normal person for much of the time, albeit a normal person with extraordinary troubles to solve as happens when he is "possessed" by the spirit of a dead woman.

How does this happen? It takes far too much explaining and set up for what is the cue for some relatively straightforward physical comedy, but essentially Roger is assigned to look after a case of a will being changed by ailing heiress Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin), who has days to live after a lifetime of ill health. However, she has a notion that she can transplant her soul into one of her staff, Terry Hoskins (Victoria Tennant, who was Mrs Martin for a while), thereby prolonging her existence in a more robust body, and has hired a Tibetan holy man (Richard Libertini), to make this so. Alas, she falls ill at the Schuyler offices, and although Roger has made it clear in no uncertain terms that he thinks she's crazy, he has a surprise in store.

That surprise being that Edwina dies, the copper bowl holding the soul gets knocked out of the window, and lands on Roger, thereby transferring Edwina into his body, or half of it at any rate. Naturally this takes a bit of getting used to for them both, though does wonders for a comedy that was running low on laughs as Martin gets to perform wildly, taking on the exaggerated characteristics of femininity on one hand (literally) while being utterly male on the other. The team behind this were patently harking back to such vintage screwball comedies as Topper and Turnabout, films which used a fantasy element to enhance and inspire their humour, and this update does impress to an extent.

It's just that those old movies were light and airy for the most part, whereas All of Me felt the need to bring in more adult jokes as if society had moved on, so the first thing Roger does when he gets Edwina inside his head is go to the Men's room to relieve himself. This does offer the excuse to see Tomlin, who after her character expires is only visible in mirrors thanks to a little cinematic trickery, which is too restricting for the comedienne but she does make up for it in her prim voiceover as we hear her in Roger's thoughts. Thereafter the lawyer, who in a non-surprising turn of events discovers that being a musician is more fulfilling than being in the courtoom, has to work out a way of getting the holy man to perform the rite he was supposed to, which is complicated by Terry suddenly not being as keen as she first appeared to go through with the swap, a plot resolving itself into something as ridiculous as Martin's excellent clowning (surely the inspiration for Jim Carrey's Liar Liar), but not quite as satisfying otherwise: it is pretty silly and only fitfully hits the necessary heights. Music by Patrick Williams.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Carl Reiner  (1922 - )

American actor, writer and director, a comedy specialist. He got his break writing for Sid Caesar's television show in the 1950s, then created the Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s. He moved into film with the autobiographical Enter Laughing, followed by the more serious The Comic and the controversial Where's Poppa?

In the 1970s he scored a hit with Oh God!, and then directed a string of fine quality Steve Martin vehicles: The Jerk, The Man with Two Brains, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and All of Me. He continued to direct into the nineties, and had a good role in the Ocean's Eleven remake. Father of Rob Reiner.

 
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