|Robert Reiner was born on 6th March 1947 in The Bronx, New York, USA.
Rob Reiner-Gap Rating 4/10
The son of quadruple-threat master of comedy Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner grew up in the same Bronx neighborhood as his future wife Penny Marshall and followed a path much like his father's en route to his own success, performing stand-up comedy and writing for TV shows like "Romp" (ABC, 1968) and "The Summer Smothers Brother Show" (CBS, 1968). After appearing in two films directed by his father ("Enter Laughing" 1967; "Where's Poppa?" 1970), the prematurely balding, heavy-set actor made his TV debut as a "motorcycle hood" on "The Partridge Family" (ABC) in 1970. Fame came knocking the following year when Norman Lear cast him as Mike 'Meathead' Stivic, Archie Bunker's liberal son-in-law (and straight man), on the classic 1970s series "All in the Family" (CBS). The groundbreaking show weathered initial resistance to its blunt, outrageous humor, and Reiner stayed on from 1971-78, winning two Emmy Awards (a paltry sum when compared with his father's ten) before leaving to pursue his own projects.
Reiner created, executive produced, and wrote for several short-lived TV series and acted in four forgettable films before making an hilarious feature directing (and screenwriting) debut with "This Is Spinal Tap" (1984), a mock "rockumentary" that parodied filmmakers' reverence for rock stars. Featuring himself as film director "Martin DiBergi", a wicked spoof of Martin Scorsese in "The Last Waltz" (1978), the satire received universally good reviews, yet when he had ventured out into the executive suites of Hollywood asking for the chance to helm it, his 'Meathead' persona had prevented people from taking him seriously. Fortunately, Lear saved the day, supplying the money to finance not only "Spinal Tap" but subsequent films as well. Though "The Sure Thing" (1986) was utterly predictable, Reiner's less distinctive but pleasant follow-up to "Spinal Tap" was an amiable teen road movie that evoked screwball comedies of old, setting the tone for his sharply funny, ostensibly adult feel-good fare to come.
"Stand By Me" (1986), one of Reiner's best films, marked his first collaboration with Stephen King, whose non-horror novella "The Body" served as its basis. Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss and boasting superb, fresh young faces like Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix and Kiefer Sutherland, the film offered an affectionate slice of 50s Americana in its story of four boys who set out on a search for the body of a dead teenager and learn powerful life lessons along the way. He continued establishing his reputation as one of Hollywood's most reliable, consistently commercial directors with his producing debut, "The Princess Bride" (1987), a quirky fairy tale and comic swashbuckler demonstrating his versatility within yet another genre. Reiner co-founded Castle Rock Entertainment that year, going on to score his biggest hit yet with the romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally . . ." (1989) while attracting the wrath of some reviewers who accused him of pilfering Woody Allen's Manhattan sensibilities, a ridiculous criticism to aim at a native New Yorker. Turning again to King, he translated the author's "Misery" to the screen in 1990, providing a tour de force, Oscar-winning role for Kathy Bates.
Reiner's first collaboration with writer Aaron Sorkin brought him his only Oscar nomination (Best Picture) to date as one of the producers of the slick military courtroom drama "A Few Good Men" (1992), adapted from Sorkin's play. Resorting for the first time to a superstar cast (i.e., Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore), the director effectively expanded the story for movie retelling and elicited top-notch performances across the board from his talent, though the convenient breakdown of the crusty Nicholson at the film's climax was only one of the contrivances that rang false. The blockbuster marked the end of a stunning run of luck that had seen him helm his first seven pictures without having a stinker among them. Next up was the disastrous "North" (1994), a fable about a kid (Elijah Wood) who divorces his parents and a picture so wrong-headed it earned zero stars from film critic Roger Ebert as "one of the most unpleasant, contrived, artificial, cloying experiences I have ever had at the movies".
Reiner recovered his dignity with "The American President" (1995), a Capraesque romantic comedy scripted by Sorkin about a widowed president (Michael Douglas) smitten by a luminous lobbyist (Annette Bening). A smart script and fine acting from both the leads and a stellar supporting cast (including Richard Dreyfuss, Michael J Fox and Martin Sheen) helped propel the starry-eyed affair past the considerable gaps in credibility. He followed with "Ghosts of Mississippi" (1996), based on the true story of the long-delayed conviction of a Southern racist for the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Whoopi Goldberg delivered an excellent portrayal as Evers' widow, and James Woods was even better as the wily, aging murderer Brian De La Beckwith. Unfortunately, the high-minded movie suffered from Hollywood revisionism and a lack of edge that might have enabled it to be the uplifting hymn to justice to which it had aspired. Meanwhile, if Castle Rock wasn't exactly enjoying smashes with Reiner's features, the company, jointly purchased with New Line Cinema by Turner Broadcasting in 1993 for $650 million, could point with pride to the fabulous success of NBC's "Seinfeld" (1989-98), which had emerged from its stable.
Reiner stepped out from behind the camera to play his first feature role in ten years in "Throw Momma from the Train" (1987), and as his directorial output slowed during the 90s, he worked with increasing frequency as an actor. He oozed flattery on the strung-out Meryl Streep in Mike Nichols' "Postcards from the Edge" (1990) before asking her to take a drug test and also appeared in Nichols' "Regarding Henry" (1991) and "Primary Colors" (1998). He popped up in his brother Lucas Reiner's directing debut, "The Spirit of '76" (1990), and played Tom Hanks' best friend in Nora Ephron's "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993), not to mention surfacing in her "Mixed Nuts", Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" (both 1994) and Hugh Wilson's popular "First Wives' Club" (1996). Terrific as a villainous network executive in Ron Howard's "EdTV", he turned up as himself in Albert Brooks' "The Muse" and then acted for the first time in a picture he directed, portraying Bruce Willis' best friend in "The Story of Us" (all 1999), a technically proficient vehicle that did little to dispel the notion that his most recent directorial efforts have lacked the freshness and unpredictability of his earlier work. After a lengthy hiatus in which he worked seriously to promote his political agenda regarding child care, Reiner returned behind the camera as the director and (uncredited) co-writer of the 2003 romantic comedy "Alex & Emma," which paired Luke Wilson as a blocked writer with a deadline opposite sassy stenographer Kate Hudson. The film took serious critical blows, mostly suggestions that the director wasn't able to recreate the light, airy tone his own earlier romantic comedy efforts. That same year, Reiner also stepped before the cameras, playing himself as a major Hollywood player who holds the professional fate of David Spade's grown kid actor in "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star."