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My First Mister (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

My First Mister

MY FIRST MISTER (2001)

Starring: Albert Brooks, Leelee Sobieski, Carol Kane, John Goodman, Michael McKean, Mary Kay Place, Matthew St. Clair, Rutanya Alda, Natasha Braisewell, Henry Brown, Gene Simmons and Christine Lahti.

Screenplay by Jill Franklyn.

Directed by Christine Lahti.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 109 minutes. Rated R.

I would have enjoyed My First Mister a lot more if it didn’t come out just a couple of months after Ghost World. The idea is clever and original; a jaded, outcast teenaged girl starts a tentative friendship and relationship with an older, but just as cynical, misfit man. I’m sure that it’s just a coincidence that is the exact same storyline as Ghost World, which frankly did a better job with the idea.

Leelee Sobieski does a remarkable job as J, a punk wannabe whose disenfranchisement with her life and her family just hides the fact that she really doesn’t like herself very much. Even better is Albert Brooks as R (these two are so disaffected that they can’t even be bothered to use their complete names), a middle-aged owner of an exclusive men’s store who has long shielded himself from pain by withdrawing from human contact.

They meet when J comes into R’s store in search of a job. At first, he just looks at her piercings and tattoos and blows her off, but when they talk later they each recognize a kindred spirit. She agrees to get rid of her piercings (something she would never do for her family) and he gives her a chance at the job. They slowly, tentatively let down their guard with each other and become friends.

The direction by actress Christine Lahti is assured, and the acting by the leads are impeccable (the supporting roles of J’s family as played by Carol Kane, John Goodman and Michael McKean are somewhat broad clichés though.) The film is very clever and enjoyable until the last act, where My First Mister inexplicably veers into TV-movie disease-of-the-week melodrama, which leads to a “touching” feel-good ending that both J and R would have probably jeered. (10/01)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright © 2002 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Posted: October 12, 2001.

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