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My First Mister is actress Christine Lahti's feature directorial debut, which is the story of an alienated goth teen (Leelee Sobieski) who forms an unlikely friendship with a lonely men's clothing store owner (Albert Brooks). The movie also co-stars Carol Kane, John Goodman and Desmond Harrington.

Synopsis

Jennifer (Sobieski), a 17-year-old mall rat, takes a shine to the 49-year-old manager of a Los Angelesmarker clothing store Randall Harris (Brooks), who also notices her. In an unlikely move, he gives her a job as a stockroom clerk, but she finds her way into the front of the store and begins to interact with - and sell clothes to - customers.

As the two strike up an unlikely friendship, they realize that neither have any close friends with whom they can talk. They nickname each other "J" and "R." They spend time together, and Randall helps Jennifer get an apartment of her own by giving her an advance on her salary. He buys her a dress for work. While he can't go through with getting a tattoo, he does go with her to a cemetery to lie on graves and feel the energy of the deceased - something she does regularly.

After Randall collapses in the street after taking a walk, Jennifer discovers he has a terminal disease, leukemia, and doesn't have long to live. While collecting his personal belongings for him at his home, she discovers the address of his ex-wife. While trying to contact her in Albuquerque, New Mexicomarker, she finds she had died six months earlier, and she meets his son, a deeply cynical young man who believed his father had died before he was born. Jennifer convinces him to come back to see him before Randall dies. Because of Jennifer, they have a brief time to get to know one another.

Her friendship with Randall inspires her to seek a more friendly relationship with her mother, father and stepfather. In Randall's final days, Jennifer puts on a dinner for him, in which his son, and Jennifer's parents and stepfather come together to celebrate his life.

Cast members



Production

This movie wasn't the first time Michael McKean and Christine Lahti had worked together. They were in rehearsals for a partly-improvised comedy film titled "Kiss the Bride." The project never came to the silver screen. It would have been directed by Bob Balaban.

Leelee Sobieski's character, Jennifer, has a number of facial piercings, and cartilage piercings in both ears, but does not have her earlobes pierced—to which a reference is made in the movie. At the time the movie was made, Sobieski herself did not have pierced earlobes, as she did not have them done until 2006. Specially for her part in this movie, she did, however, have both nostrils, both eyebrows and her lower lip pierced, along with the cartilage of both ears. After filming was completed, she removed the piercings and allowed them to close up again, but kept the jewelry as a souvenir of the movie.

Commentary and reviews

In DVD commentary director Christine Lahti applauds the work of the cast and crew, remarking "[I] was very lucky to have such a wonderful crew..." During casting she was very impressed with Albert Brooks' passion for the role. When Sobieski was mentioned for the part "J", Lahti was skeptical that "...such a beautiful face" would capture the feeling and look of isolation that was needed for the character, but she changed her mind when she took the opportunity to meet Sobieski for the role. She did feel regret that the film was rated R, for language, despairing that the movie might not be viewed by teenagers who would like and relate with the characters. Also, Lahti mentioned several times that she would have liked to have more time to shoot different perspectives in order to facilitate story arc.

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