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4.4 out of 5 stars13
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 24 April 2010
I didn't really know what to expect from this film, and rented it purely on the basis on liking Christine Lahti as an actress and was intrigued to see a film directed by her, and what a wonderful little gem of a movie this is.
The story revolves around the character of Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski), a dark and depressed 17 year old goth complete with tattoos, black make-up and piercings. She is miserable at school, feels misunderstood by her mother, stepfather and father, has no friends, and is desperately in need of someone she can relate to. That someone turns out to be the last person you'd expect, a 49 year old men's clothing store owner named Randall (Albert Brooks). After approaching him for a job he is reluctant to hire her, he eventually gives in and despite their age and lifestyle differences, the two find their dysfunctional lives are irreversibly changed for the better for having met.
Luckily this doesn't turn into another `older guy, younger girl' romance. Director Christine Lahti is too smart to let things get so stereotypical, and she's also wise enough to let viewers discover the hidden depths in Randall and Jennifer, depths that might not surface if sex muddied the waters. Lahti also adds an understated style that charms without being overwhelming or too schmaltzy. Funny, tragic, and smart, this movie should be seen by anyone who wishes they'd make movies `like they used to'.
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on 31 March 2004
At the beginning it's not clear what the film is about, with the main character J having bizarre visions and flashbacks. I thought it would be one of those movies that spends it's time trying to be surreal and going nowhere. But as the story develops it becomes a touching tale of an unusual friendship. By the end I had tears pouring down my face. I loved it.
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You really don't know what this movie is going to be about even after reading the synopsis, but essentially it's about friendship and the need for it.

The two leads are such different characters (young female goth, older sensible male shop owner) that they have nothing in common, but each sees in each other the need for companionship and a sense of belonging. The young lady occasionaly confuses this with sex, and thinks that she needs this from the older character but of course she doesn't, she is just identifying a different need.

There are a few twists and turns along the way, but to be honest nothing which will make you do a double take at the TV screen.
This is one of those films that you will really enjoy, but no-one else will ever have heard off.

Risk it and watch it, you'll be pleased you did
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Jennifer Wilson sticks a safety pin in her palm to draw blood onto a typically morose diatribe on parchment paper as she watches a cheery Partridge Family re-run on television (David Cassidy singing "I think I love you..."). Her bedroom would make The Addams Family proud. Plastic skeletons hang from the mirror, black and silver skull murals adorn the wardrobe, decapitated girly toy dolls stabbed with safety pins and needles sit beside naked shop mannequins covered in black eyeliner and blood. This is the kind of doom-filled bedroom "Game of Thrones" set designers would wander around looking for good ideas.

Jay is miserable to a degree that is hilarious and pathological (the lovely and talented Leelee Sobieski). She's alienated everyone at school with how she acts and looks (tattoos, piercings, hoodies, everything in black), hasn't had a boyfriend, her mother's a hyperactive re-married wreck and her wig-wearing step-father seems absent to the world from the waist up (fabulous work by Carol Kane and Michael McKean). Jay looks at people through binoculars - backwards - because they seem more fun that way. She also enjoys lying on graves feeling the 'energy' of women who have passed and sees her beloved dead grandmother sat opposite her at the dinner table as mother serves up yet more leftover Brisket. Jay throws a paper-glider from her bedroom window each day to the uncaring World outside with her latest eulogy statement. She even self-inflicts on her arms when she's in real pain. You could say the young Californian lady has her 'issues'...

One day Jay heads into where the real money is at - the Century City shopping mall in Los Angeles. Having been chucked out of every clothing store for looking like Edward Scissorhands on a Goth tip and scaring the Bejayzuss out of the customers - she ends up outside a high end clothing store called Rutherfords. Inside she sees the cardigan wearing, oversized-slacks owning Randall unsuccessfully trying to dress an armless female mannequin in the store window. For some reason Jay takes a shine to this slightly odd and sad man. However it turns out Randall Harris is not such a drip - he's witty, just as quick with the retort and although he's a guarded soul too - Randall is older, wiser and somehow more kindly (a fantastically effecting Albert Brooks).

So in a moment of olive branch and spurred on by her obvious intelligence and initiative - Manager Randall offers the crazy-looking brat a storeroom job colour-coding the men's shirts. It isn't long before Randall's goodness starts to rid her of those dark-world trappings and from underneath all that black make-up emerges something pretty - even loveable and fun. Soon they're hanging out, visiting her drinking haunts, having laughs, playing records in stores and both slowly opening up to a world of possibilities that isn't so isolated and alone anymore. They may even be slightly in love, as she gets jealous of older women and their attention to Randall. Jay even hooks up with her pot-smoking freewheeling Dad again (typically funny and great work from John Goodman) and things seem good for a while...

A relationship between a pretty seventeen year-old and a rotund 49 year-old male with a moustache, curly hair and no dress sense might descend into farce and even become pervy - or simply be on screen for the sake of audience shock value. But long-time Actress and Director Christine Lahti is careful to keep their time together on an even keel. But better than that - there's a genuine chemistry of affection between actors Sobieski and Brooks that fills every scene with a tenderness and admiration that is rare. These are two lost souls helping each other come out of their darkness and loneliness - and each scene they're together in bristles with that lovely hopefulness that probably made the Director want to make the movie in the first place.

The burgeoning love between them is never consummated (not that kind of tale) but Jay soon discovers that Randall Harris is keeping a secret about a wife that left decades back, a son he never knew and a medical condition he's kept hidden from everyone (the woman who visits at the shop is a nurse - Mary Kay Place as Patty). And on it goes to Jay desperately trying to get back to a hospital in time with a young man in tow (Desmond Harrington) who is just as moody and morose as she is...

I loved Christine Lahti in "Housekeeping" (a 1987 film that's long forgotten and criminally so) and I figured her "My First Mister" would be touching - and it is. "You communicate with articles not humans..." Jay says to neurotic Randall in a probing moment. She honestly calls him "anal dude" in another and he doesn't mind because deep down he knows she's right. He jokes back in the early part of their relationship "We'll keep her in the store on a temporary basis in case she tries suicide!" - while he later confesses on his home porch "I'm afraid of everything...going to bed...waking up..." Astutely and beautifully observed by Jill Franklyn (the Writer) - there's a dance of truth and expression between the two lead characters that is both profound and warm and not easy to get right.

Perhaps because of its slightly naff title this 2001 film never seemed to get noticed - and to this day (2014) the HD version is only available on a download (there's no BLU RAY). But this is one little tattoo on the buttocks I suggest you get down and dirty with...

A tender and life-affirming movie - maybe one day "My First Mister" will make it onto the new format. I will look forward greatly to that...
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on 26 October 2008
This movie, made by one of the rare female mainstream moviemakers of our day is an indication of what kind of movie we could be getting more of if only there were more women directors and screenwriters out there. Yes there are elements of this film which I believe were overdone, but you get that when a film is trying hard to be different from other films in its genre. The movie has tremendous spirit, surprising depth, and best of all really, it has a very emotional nature. This was without doubt the overiding aim of the film's creator, to show a film which speaks to real modern day (young) women. I'm a bloke and I don't understand women at all, like most men, but I understood this movie perfectly. I probably wouldn't want every movie to be as emotionally sensitive as this one, but as a rare counterbalance to the shallow formula romcoms that abound, films like this are very welcome. An absolutely superb effort and much more lifelike and relevant than most big budget romcoms. I hope more movies like this will get made now.
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on 22 May 2014
Watched this on netflix best film I've seen for ages won't go in detail into as others have 'so I've bought the film you will love it
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on 27 August 2013
Good film worth checking out, delivery prompt and product in perfect working condition. Albert Brooks fans should watch for sure
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on 8 October 2009
Very watchable film with excelent performances. Pity there are no more films of this type (unusual and pleasant story, well acted and directed).
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on 14 September 2014
Almost as great as 'Everything is Illuminated '. A wonderful film.
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on 14 May 2015
well acted , with an unusual performance from Leelee Sobrieski
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