All of Me
Carl Reiner directed Steve Martin in four films in a row: The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Man With Two Brains, and this one. (In between Steve made Pennies From Heaven and The Lonely Guy without Reiner.) Those first three were flat-out wacko, you weren’t intended to believe a moment of them, nor to have any interest in the characters other than as vehicles for the jokes. I have no problem with this, I found them all incredibly funny. But this film takes Martin’s comedy genius to a new level. It begins with a wacky premise, that Lily Tomlin is a rich and bitchy invalid who intends for an Indian guru to transfer her mind into a young woman volunteer (Victoria Tennant, who was married to Martin for eight years). An accident transfers her into Martin instead, and the comic genius really shows itself here in a series of scenes where he is battling her for control of the body they share. This is some of the best physical comedy since Chaplin and Keaton, sheer genius. But as the film goes along, though it remains funny, the script begins to concern itself with character, to its benefit. By the end these are real people battling an evil woman through circumstances we can actually believe in, in a science-fictional way. It’s quite an accomplishment, and paves the way for more realistic comedies Martin would do later in his career. Highly recommended.