The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe | Chicago Reader

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

A film version of Lily Tomlin's much-celebrated one-woman show, in which she plays a dozen separate characters and satirizes New Age lifestyles (among other things). Written by executive producer Jane Wagner and directed and shot by John Bailey, this has a lot of added sound effects (designed by Wagner), as well as a good many fast transitions from Tomlin on a bare stage to Tomlin in costume on various sets and back again. Packed with virtuosity, this may still be the best solo performance on film since Richard Pryor—Live in Concert; Wagner's writing may not have the personal urgency of Pryor's (whose does?), but the level of performance is often nearly as high. (Tomlin can be as funny playing men as Pryor is playing various white folks.) If you like Tomlin at all, you shouldn't miss this.

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