Saturday, January 13, 2007

Movie Review: Directors: Rob Reiner 2 ½ Stars

As part of a series produced by the American Film Institute, this documentary is a career retrospective of Rob Reiner’s work, as shown through clips and talking head interviews with Reiner himself and the actors with whom he has worked.

Beginning with his role as Meathead on the classic Norman Lear television comedy All in the Family, Directors: Rob Reiner chronicles the numerous peaks and infrequent valleys of the affable filmmaker’s career.

Films highlighted include cult classic, This is Spinal Tap, teen comedy The Sure Thing, coming-of-age family film Stand By Me, swashbuckling fantasy adventure The Princess Bride, beloved romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, psychological thriller Misery, courtroom drama A Few Good Men, box office flop North, romance The American President and Ghosts of Mississippi, the story of the Medgar Evers murder.

Each film clip is illuminated with anecdotes about the process Reiner uses as a director provided by actors from those films including John Cusack, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal, Michael McKean, Cary Elwes, Kevin Bacon and Annette Bening. Of course, the most interesting anecdotes come from Reiner, himself, a seemingly warm and ebullient man, whose eyes light up when he talks about filmmaking.

Unfortunately, the documentary is rather staid, with low production values and no story other than a chronology. It seems like the bonus feature on a DVD rather than a DVD unto itself. We should expect more from the AFI. The whole affair is rescued from the realm of boredom by Reiner’s commentary and by the clips themselves--Reiner has made some wonderful films.

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