'Lost in America' is a largely overlooked comedic gem of a movie, directed by and starring the intermittently brilliant comedian Albert Brooks. It's probably his best film, the most successful in terms of sustained humor. Others, like 'Defending Your Life' and 'The Muse' fall flat for long stretches and Brooks' neurotic persona starts to grate. But when he's good, he's very good, and there are some gaspingly hilarious moments in 'Lost in America.' I wouldn't mind being Albert Brooks. Without ever having a huge commercial success, he has been able to produce films regularly (while appearing in others) for the last thirty years. He's sort of a poor man's Woody Allen, but frankly I prefer Brooks and find his comic style much more palatable. 'Lost in America' finds David Howard (Brooks) expecting a big promotion at the ad agency where he works. More than expecting it, he is banking on it. He and his wife Linda (Julie Hagerty) have sold their house and bought a new one, so certain are they of this impending move up and increase in salary. David's friends and co-workers have all told him he's a shoo-in for the job. Yet worry nags at him. He's like a little kid who has convinced himself he's going to get a pony for Christmas but deep down knows there's no way. The big day arrives and when the dust has settled, David's worst fears have come true. In fact, worse than his worst fears, because before that dust settles, more has happened than he could have conceived that morning while he was rehearsing his 'acceptance speech.' This is the funniest scene in the film, a classic little study of human nature when everything that can possibly go wrong does. It's not slapstick; it's just a three-way conversation between David, his boss, and a bald man from New York. Before his boss even has a chance to really say anything, David launches into his thank you's and what a great day it is and how he is going to practically live at the agency from now on, giving the new job his all. That's great, his boss says, except you're not being promoted, you're going to New York to work on a new account (Ford) as Brad's (the bald man) assistant. Nothing in David's repertoire of responses is adequate to reply to this; part of his overcoming the nagging worry was to totally dismiss the possibility of this happening. So he loses it, completely. He rips into his boss, into Brad, into Brad's impromptu idea for a jingle ("this little Town Car, will drive you away" to the tune of 'New York, New York'), into his wasted years at the agency, into his boss's hairpiece, into New York itself ("if you think it's so great, why don't YOU go to New York?" he shouts). By the end of all this, which has taken less than fifteen minutes, he not only doesn't have the promotion, he's been fired. All of which is just the set-up for the rest of the film. A super-hyped-up David dashes to Linda's office and breathlessly tells her what happened, desperately trying to put the best spin on things. He decides on the spur of the moment that they should sell everything they own and drop out of society, "like they did in 'Easy Rider.'" One of the ideas he spews out has to do with uninhibited sex (I think) and concludes with the inspired thought that "there are some people you f*** in front of and some people you don't. We'll FIND THE ONES... and then we'll spend the rest of our lives f****** in front of them!" Linda tries to calm him down before he hyperventilates but soon he is rushing off to price motorhomes. From there, they head off across America in a Winnebago, to "touch Indians" among other things, but the trek turns out to be an abbreviated one as they only make it as far as Arizona, after Linda gambles away all their money in Las Vegas. There are other funny moments which inevitably seem a bit anti-climactic after the high-intensity rush of laughter induced by the above-mentioned two scenes. Still, it is a well-paced comedy that finds Brooks at a peak, consistently coming up with funny lines and situations. Many of the ideas hit very close to home with young urban professionals, if they are self-observant enough to notice. Not too many films are really 'laugh out loud' funny, but 'Lost in America' is one of them.