Film and television director Barry Sonnenfeld's memoir traces his idiosyncratic upbringing in Washington Heights, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, and beloved work like Get Shorty and A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Mr. Sonnenfeld, whose past experience as an Esquire columnist gave him a head start in writing a book this sharp, punctures the myth of the Director as God and instead offers the Director as Nervous Wreck ... In evoking his youth in 1950s and ’60s New York, Mr. Sonnenfeld has crafted a biting family portrait ... The author also offers many relatively benign, humorous anecdotes ... Mr. Sonnenfeld seamlessly transitions from his acidic coming-of-age tale to equally frank discussions of his career ... Mr. Sonnenfeld, whose gift for describing the indignities of moviemaking remains constant whether he is discussing, in agonizing detail, early gigs shooting pornographic films or coming to creative loggerheads with directors while working as a cinematographer ... Here we have not only a new entrant in the movie-director memoir genre but an even rarer beast: a book by someone in the entertainment industry who is neither self-aggrandizing nor self-important but uniquely, and painfully, candid.
Sonnenfeld...does more than name-drop or recall Hollywood vignettes in this funny, wry and thoroughly entertaining memoir. Sonnenfeld is, above all, a storyteller, and while his own journey from a skinny, French horn-playing kid to a successful director drives the breezy narrative, he takes time to bring supporting characters irreverently to life—his overprotective mother, Kelly, who spent years threatening suicide, and his father, Sonny, who tormented her with his many affairs. Against this backdrop, Sonnenfeld’s loving and happy family life with his wife, Sweetie, shines through.
Sonnenfeld views all of this with an unflinching eye, going into stark detail about everything from his first professional shoots on nine pornography films to his adventures with the Coen brothers to the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother’s cousin. A candid, sometimes dark, entertaining, anecdotal trip down memory lane from a Hollywood icon.