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My First Mister (2001)

 

Starring: Albert Brooks, Leelee Sobieski, Carol Kane
Director: 
Christine Lahti

Rating: PG-13

Studio: Paramount

Review Posted: 12.28.02

 

By Christopher T. Bryan

 

The Movie

 

My First Mister is a rarity: a great find at the video store. Itís one of those movies that slipped in under the radar that one wouldnít find unless tired of the usual Hollywood offerings. I picked up the box, read the synopsis, saw a few familiar actors and decided to make it that nightís entertainment. What I stumbled upon was a real treat. My First Mister is a movie with heart, and a story about life and all of its uncertainties, without a lot of sappiness.

 

Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski, The Glass House) is a confused, over pierced teenager who chooses to dress entirely in black. A look at her divorced parents gives insight into Jenniferís confusion. Her Mother (Carol Kane) is flippant and utterly clueless, while her Father (John Goodman) is stuck in the sixties. Jennifer finds herself without a job and goes looking for one at the Century City Mall. She is met with stares as every possible employer turns her away. She finds work in the least likely place of all, an upscale clothing store. Randall (Albert Brooks) sees something, maybe just an escape from his everyday life, in Jennifer and offers her a back of the house stockroom position. A unique friendship has begun.

 

Jennifer develops a crush on Randall that doesnít seem to be unrequited. I originally thought that these two were attracted to each other because they were complete opposites; Jennifer being female, young, attractive, and misunderstood while Randall is male, old, physically unattractive, and dull. Their similarities are revealed once Jennifer begins to make her mark on Randallís life. Each is misunderstood, and alone, longing for companionship and have been unsuccessful at finding it until they stumbled upon one another.

 

My First Mister brilliantly kept me interested and on the edge of my seat. Tension is felt as soon as this socially unacceptable relationship begins. There are numerous times when one feels that they will take that final physical step turning Jennifer into nothing more than a cheap thrill, and Randall into a pedophile. Jill Franklin (writer) graciously sidesteps this pitfall of many movies to tell the bigger story about life and family.

 

Leelee Sobieski has given us a glimpse of her acting talents as she sinks her teeth into a great character after some throwaway roles in films like Joyride. She perfectly captures the fear, confusion, loneliness and love of a teenager who just wants to understand and be understood. Brooks plays Randall as a middle-aged man lost in the trenches of a routine. Due to Brooksí talent, Randall never comes off as anything but sincere even though he is developing a questionable love for a teenager.

 

My First Mister is a gift in the movie world where teenage girls are all big breasted, pouty-lipped women, and men are dirty with only sex on their mind. This film goes beyond the teen angst niche that has been exploited by many Hollywood movies as a time not for self-discovery but for sexual voyeurism. A story is told that leaves the viewer with a warm feeling long after the movie has ended.

 

>Read Mike McLarney's Film Review!

 

The Video

 

The picture is great. The movie was shot in widescreen format, which I thought was interesting.

 

The Audio

 

English 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Surround, Subtitles

 

The Extras

 

-Commentary by Director Christine Lahti: The Commentary is noteworthy. It reveals some interesting insights into casting and filming of My First Mister. It is mentioned that are a number of deleted scenes. I love deleted scenes on a DVD, however, they werenít included here.

 

Overall

 

This is a fantastic movie that I would highly recommend. Even though there arenít many extras, you want to see this movie for the story itself. It is a great family film, or a date movie.

 

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