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Laramie Movie Scope:
All of Me

Comedy of heiress's spirit sharing a man's body

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(1984) After receiving on his 38th birthday an African grave post from his girlfriend Peggy Schuyler (Madolyn Smith), Roger Cobb (Steve Martin), an attorney with her father's law firm, Schuyler and Mifflin, says he's maybe ready for the "m" word. "If you can't say the 'm' word," she replies, "maybe you can't do the 'm' word."

In addition to practicing law, Roger plays guitar in a jazz band with his pal Tyrone "Ty" Wattell (Jason Bernard), a blind saxophonist. However, dismayed about his future, Roger realizes he needs to make something of himself: "I want worthwhile cases. I want to defend right against wrong." Wanting a partnership in the law firm most of all, he tells Peggy's father, Burton Schuyler (Dana Elcar), that he's decided to quit the band in order to devote all of his time and energies to his cases.

Impressed with by his future son-in-law's new ambition, Burton offers Roger a deal if he handles properly the estate of wealthy heiress Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin). When Roger arrives at her mansion, Edwina, a lifelong invalid dying of heart failure, wants to amend her will so that Terry Hoskins (Victoria Tennant), the vivacious daughter of her stableman Fred (Eric Christmas), will inherit the entire Cutwater fortune.

"I'm gonna come back from the dead," Edwina proclaims. "What makes you think you can do that?" Roger questions her. "Because I'm rich." Always in frail health, never having had any enjoyment in life - no travel abroad or anywhere, no ballet or dancing, no horse riding - Edwina says: "If my wealth cannot help me in this life, then by God it's going to buy me another one."

Phil Alden Robinson's screenplay of comedy, fantasy, and romance from Henry Olek's adaptation of Edwin Davis novel, Me Two, was directed by Carl Reiner. Edwina is certain that Prahka Lasa (Richard Libertini), a Tibetan swami, can transmigrate Terry's soul into the universe, leaving the young woman's body - her complacent composure apparently copasetic with a new cosmic home - vacant for Edwina's spirit.

"Is everybody here bananas?" exclaims Roger, though he acknowledges originality in the scam. For his negativity, Edwina accuses him of having pauper parentage, ordering him out; but as he's departing, Roger stands up to her: "Just because my grandfather didn't rape the environment and exploit the workers doesn't make me a peasant. And it's not that he didn't want to rape the environment and exploit the workers, I'm sure he did. It's just that as a barber, he didn't have that much opportunity."

Returning to the law firm, Roger finds that Edwina and her little retinue are in Burton's office where he once more explodes into vitriol at her demand that he be fired. In the street below, unaware of the commotion and confusion above as Edwina succumbs to the throes of death while Prahka Lasa frantically initiates the ritual for transference of souls, Roger inadvertently becomes the recipient of Edwina's spirit. Battling within his own body for control over his movements, Roger possesses the left side while Edwina - "First me, then you" - has command over the right.

Visual humor arises from the spastic movements and contrary male/female body language. Whenever he looks into a mirror, Roger can see Edwina. Needing to take a leak, he enters the men's room where he negotiates with Edwina - "All right, first loosen your grip" - who has never previously handled a penis, to assist in taking "the little fireman" out of his trousers.

Peggy, overhearing Roger arguing with himself, thinks he's with another woman. "You did it with a dead woman?" she misconstrues from his attempt to explain his absurd situation. "By the way, I never liked your dog," Peggy says of Bix the sheepdog: "And I think jazz is stupid! And I faked all of those orgasms. Ah! Ah! Oh! Yes! Sound familiar?" Roger replies: "Yeah? Well, I faked mine, too."

Edwina, after blurting out an insult of Peggy's cheap and common perfume, assures Roger: "We're better off without her. She wasn't right for us." With his romantic life in disarray and his career on the line - Burton has assigned a critical divorce case to Roger, his own marital conflict with Peggy's mother, after numerous sexual indiscretions - Roger has to deal with the woman driver in him who's never driven a car.

The memorial church service for Edwina takes place to empty pews. Desperate to find Prahka Lasa to rid himself of Edwina, Roger allows himself to be distracted (Edwina's half has fallen asleep) by Terry's passionate seduction: "I want to love one last time to sustain me in the next world." But just as they get into bed, virginal Edwina wakes up: "What's going on here?"

Edwina apologizes for spoiling Roger's birthday; she sobs: "I've never had any friends." The next day, lacking sleep, Roger has to appear in court for Burton's divorce case and then attend Edwina's funeral, in hopes of finding Prahka Lasa.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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