If You’re Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast
Director: Danny Gold
Shapiro/West Productions, Gold Entertainment Group/HBO
The title of this charming documentary comes from a Carl Reiner bit. He recalls the obituary of an actress he had worked with – the only picture featured including Reiner (in his co-staring capacity). He jokes about doing a double-take and that being his mantra ever since, to wake up and check the obit, if he’s not in it he’ll start his day.
Reiner (95 when this film was made) is our host. The comedy legend catches up with fellow comedy legends Mel Brooks and Norman Lear. Their friendship shines through and never looks manufactured. What follows is a series of conversations and mini-portraits of stars and singers over 90.
Dick Van Dyke’s energy is remarkable, as is Betty White’s – and though you could point to a part of the success of these healthy, happy nonagenarians being that they’re financially fit also it’s still a heartening and heart-warming film. This isn’t just a fluff piece about aging with grace, humour and humility – it’s about motivations and productivity. Lear, at now nearly 95 has a weekly podcast, a new show on Netflix, a recent memoir behind him andmany other projects. Reiner still fronts up to talks and one-man shows, has written five books since turning 90 and believes he’s more capable – clear-headed, focused, sharp – with his daily writing now than he’s ever been.
It’s about being match-fit, about staying mentally sharp as well as active and about refusing to be hemmed in by a number. Around all of that none of the subjects here are deluded around their own age, their awareness of mortality is one of the key driving factors, one of the main motivators I’m sure.
I loved this film. It’s funny and tender and wise. And it should be required Monday night viewing. Just as you think you’ve had a bad day and it might start a bad week it’s good to be reminded what some people are out there doing. And that they’ve been doing it across more than our lifetimes. And that they’re not looking like slowing down.