Albert Brooks: Defending My Life Is The Jewish Content We Need

Albert Brooks and Rob Reiner in Albert Brooks: Defending My Life. Courtesy of HBO.

Albert Brooks: Defending My Life is the newest documentary from Rob Reiner and it is the Jewish content we so badly need right now.

There is a universe where this documentary is called Albert Einstein: Defending My Life. Albert’s family used his birth to name him Albert. He might not be a great scientist like Einstein but he’s certainly a brilliant comedian. I mean, if you can make Carl Reiner laugh, you’ve got to be doing something right! Speaking of Reiner, his son, Rob, directs the documentary. When we’re not watching clips or other interviews from family, friends, and fans, we’re watching them sitting down in conversation. Both are from showbiz families and have known each other for years. As such, Reiner is the best filmmaker for the job.

There are so many clips in the documentary that it is hard to choose your favorite. One of the clips that had me laughing in particular is a Curb Your Enthusiasm clip where they are doing a living wake for Albert Brooks. It’s the episode where we learn that the multi-hyphenate is a Covid horder. Anyway, the documentary only runs 90 minutes long. Too short, I know especially when Judd Apatow did a two-parter for the late Garry Shandling. Brooks is worthy of a two-parter doc but an hour and a half is still solid. I came up through comedy so I’m always fascinated by these sorts of documentaries that allow us to go inside a comedian’s mind. What makes them tick? How did they grow up? And why did the Academy rob Brooks of an Oscar nomination for Drive?!? I’ll wait.

Brooks is the son of a radio comedian so his going into comedy was genetic. His style is absurd but many people appreciate his unique sense of humor. Listen to Rob and Albert discussing Carl’s comments. I already said it earlier but it bares repeating to stress Brooks’ comedy genius: if you make Carl Reiner laugh, you’re doing something right. The documentary covers his entire life from his childhood to his career to his family. Interviews with friends and fans speak to a lasting legacy in comedy.

Marc Shaiman composes the score but you might not realize it because of being too focused on the stories and clips. Could you imagine watching inside a theater? The score would be practically non-existent from all of the laughs!

If Jewish humor or Magen David necklaces offend you, this documentary will not be for you. I’m sorry but it’s true. I will say that the necklaces brought a smile to my face because it says something about being proud Jews. But I digress. What are you waiting for–just press play already!

Rob Reiner’s Albert Brooks: Defending My Life adds to Brooks’ legacy and serves as a solid introduction for new fans, too.

DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner
FEATURING: Albert Brooks, Rob Reiner, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, Wanda Sykes, Jon Stewart, James L. Brooks, Ben Stiller, Steven Spielberg, Sarah Silverman, David Letterman, Larry David, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow, Sharon Stone, Brian Williams, Cliff Einstein, Anthony Jeselnik, Tiffany Haddish, Alana Haim, Nikki Glaser, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Kimberly Brooks, Jake Brooks, Claire Brooks

HBO aired Albert Brooks: Defending My Life on November 11, 2023 and the documentary film will be available to stream on Max. Grade: 5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.