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Albert Brooks and the Art of Selectivity

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Twas a time in the 1980s when Albert Brooks was lauded as the West Coast’s answer to Woody Allen. Here was a writer-director-actor capable of giving neurotic Jewish humor an intelligently Californian spin. If his limited artistic output (a mere two films that decade) never followed through on the promise, he also never subjected his fans to a series of painful cinematic misfires (or disturbing marital woes). Brooks always went for quality over quantity. Even as a performer, he’s been highly selective so that audiences were lucky if he showed up in one film in any given year.

In a way, Brooks has become even more finicky (and less visible) of late. In the last ten years, most of his work in movies has been strictly vocal: Doctor Dolittle (1998), Finding Nemo (2003), and The Simpsons Movie (2007). The In-Laws is the exception that makes us wish he were a little more profilic and a little less camera-shy. A remake of Arthur Hiller’s 1979 classic, this familial comedy shows the one-time stand-up comic hasn’t lost his touch and can hold his own even when tackling a role originated by Alan Arkin. Hey, Brooks has never had a problem following in anybody‘s footsteps.

The In-Laws plays tonight, Sunday February 2 at 6 p.m. | 5C. Click here for the full schedule this month.

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