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Lost in America (1985) Review

There’s something overtly haphazard in the subtext of Lost in America that, while I don’t agree with, is something that I’m afraid of. The idea that taking the bold step to quit your job and follow your dream life could come crashing down at any moment is something that really does shake me to my core, so it comes as no surprise that I find myself drawn to the entire premise. Albert Brooks stars and directs us through such a thought process, where two well-off Americans quit their day jobs and crack open their nest egg to embark on a tour of the great states of their home country.

David and Linda Howard (Brooks and Julie Hagerty) are a believable enough couple. They’re both content with their life, never really rising up to grasp it by the nettle, nor are they struggling to make ends meet. They find themselves in a position of relative luck, and soon turn that luck into action when they set off on their tour of the United States. After a manic set of gambling, Linda loses them their money, and the two spend the remainder of their time arguing, amicably discussing their situation and running into a variety of characters.

With the strength of the film coming solely from the chemistry between Brooks and Hagerty, we depend on them throughout the entireity of Lost in America. Thankfully some steady direction leads to a handful of memorable scenes, held up by the strong performances of both actors. Brooks and Hagerty don’t tend to get as much credit as they should, with their work in the field of film being far greater than you would first realise. They bring their profound work ethic to the table once more here, adapting a great script from frequent writing pair Brooks and Monica Mcgowan Johnson.

There’s nothing within Lost in America that comes across as outlandishly funny. David losing his cool and turning into a manic American intent on grabbing at every opportunity he can is such a sudden change that it plays quite nicely with the often-confused Linda. But there never comes an occasion where either actor can rise to the standard you would expect of uproarious humour. There are certainly some nice lines throughout, but nothing that’ll blow away any avid fan of the comedy genre.

While Lost in America is a certainly entertaining time, it isn’t as funny as you’d expect it to be. With a rushed ending and far too much time spent on the build-up, rather than the pay off, Lost in America becomes a fairly wobbly, yet totally enjoyable bit of fun thanks to its enjoyable leading performances. Lacking the nerve to take its comedy to the next level, what you have here is a product that is entirely comfortable and light hearted, more difficult than you’d expect given the brutality of the predicaments our leading characters find themselves in.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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