The legendary comedian, actor and film producer and director traces his rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to his stellar film career, offering insight into the inspiration for his ideas and the many close friendships and collaborations behind his success.
Brooks is generous with his praise and steadfast in his belief that no comedy icon ever achieves great heights alone ... Brooks writes both like a man grateful for his blessings and one unwilling to saddle his final years with regret. As a consequence, few words are devoted to more solemn subjects, such as Bancroft’s death from cancer in 2005, but many are shared in service to deconstructing some of his most cherished material. In fact, it is these passages, dedicated to such topics as the enduring humor of flatulating cowboys...that ultimately shine the brightest. Delivered with Brooks’ indefatigable brand of silly, slyly brilliant wit, his revelations on the craft of comedy serve as the backbone of a memoir that deals equally in punch lines and pearls of wisdom. A wonderful addition to a seminal career, All About Me! is not only a worthy summary of all Mel Brooks has achieved but also a lasting testament to the laughs he’s had along the way.
Brooks...does not concern himself in these pages with changing norms in the industry that has rewarded him so handsomely. Perhaps named for All About Eve but less of a bumpy night than a joy ride, All About Me! takes humor as an absolute value ... Its 460 pages rattle along like an extended one-liner ... As the old song goes, he accentuates the positive.
As advertised, All About Me! is a narrowly focused celebration of a poor Jewish kid who grew up from Brooklyn street corner jokester to become synonymous with hearty laughter and naughty chuckles. It’s a surprisingly gentle remembrance from a comedian known for mocking anything considered sacred in America ... His all-too-brief discussions about the business side of the movie business—he demanded foreign rights to his later pictures and was rewarded with more money than he earned domestically—are welcome asides. Anyone looking for introspection will be disappointed. While Brooks celebrates his reputation for 'dangerous' comedy, he’s taking no chances with today’s hot topics ... Yes, too much of All About Me! is self-congratulatory—if Brooks isn’t praising himself, he quotes others praising him—and, yes, recounting plots and casts for his films comes off as superficial. His memoir works best, which is more often than not, as a look back in laughter from a man who isn’t through trying to make us gasp for breath.