In Salon (free ad serve required), Stephanie Zacharek writhes in pain while watching the long, slow, torturous decline and fall of Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, Woody Allen, and other no-longer-funnymen. Highlights include a bullseye on Brooks' Looking For Comedy In the Muslim World:
The movie casts wide, safe, cushy loops around any potentially touchy subject, like, say, religion. The whole enterprise feels particularly lame in light of the recent furor over those Danish cartoon caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. Forget mild jokes about Gandhi; now we really know what Muslims don't find funny. What's the point of tackling a subject like this one if you're not going to risk getting the studio burned down?
I apologize for once hoping Looking For Comedy might be funny, and for still hoping even as the thunderclouds of unfunniness gathered. At the time, commenter Alan Vanneman (whose excellent movie reviews you can read here) upbraided me as a rank sentimentalist: "If you're expecting Albert Brooks to make a funny film, you must also be looking forward to Mary Tyler Moore's new sitcom. Talk about lost causes!" Too true, Alan.
Joe Dante's woefully underrated Looney Tunes: Back In Action briefly raised hopes of a Steve Martin return to form.
Nick Gillespie gave Martin a Bronx cheer to go with this Kennedy Center No-Longer-Funny Award.