Brian De Palma Vincent Canby - Essay

Vincent Canby

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Any movie that contains a doctor-nurse joke is all right by me. Brian De Palma's "Home Movies" contains not one but several doctor-nurse jokes or, even better, doctor-nurse sequences….

"Home Movies" also contains jokes about innocent young men who are still virgins and virginal-looking young women who aren't, sexist jokes, jokes about marital infidelity and closet homosexuals, even movie jokes. They aren't all hilarious, but even the ones that aren't knee-slappers are friendly, if only for being well-meant….

["Home Movies"] is a movie that deals proudly in undergraduate humor….

"Home Movies" is nothing if not casual in form. Sometimes it's a movie-within-a-movie and sometimes it's simply a movie, though it's always about Denis Byrd …, an earnest, shy young man who is described variously as "an extra in his own life," "a frozen frame in his own movie" and "forgotten in his own time."…

I'm not sure it's fair to put "Home Movies" into commercial release…. Order and consistency are not its strong points. However, in its antic, anarchic, ebullient way, it recalls the young Brian De Palma who, before winning commercial success with such suspense-horror films as "Carrie" and "The Fury," delighted a small, fanatically loyal audience with his low-budget comedies, "Hi, Mom" and "Greetings." That's very nice, indeed.

Vincent Canby, "Screen: De Palma on Youth," in The New York Times, Section C (© 1980 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 16, 1980, p. 13.