****/**** Image B+ Sound B+ Extras B+
starring Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty
written by Albert Brooks & Monica Johnson
directed by Albert Brooks
by Bryant Frazer Early in Lost in America, David Howard (Albert Brooks) is trying to convince his wife, Linda (Julie Hagerty), that it's a good idea to abandon their Los Angeles house in favour of an interstate-ready mobile home. He describes the amenities in detail--it even has a "microwave that browns"--and outlines his dangerously misguided fantasy of dropping out of society to explore the country. "Linda," he says, "this is just like Easy Rider, except now it's our turn." That's a good line, and not just because Albert Brooks--round-faced, pushing 40, with enormous glasses and a distinctive Jewfro--is a physically and temperamentally unlikely candidate for the Easy Rider lifestyle. It's really funny because it's so clearly a terrible idea. In a rush of pride and vocal anger at being passed over for a desired promotion, David lost his job as an advertising copywriter, unwrapping himself from the protective swaddle of gainful corporate employment. Now he wants to drag Linda, a department-store HR functionary, into the void with him. It's like a car wreck in slow-motion, except the guy driving sold his air bags for gas money and is delivering a peppy monologue about how great it feels not to be wearing a seat belt. This, we understand, is a calamity in the making.