This comedy starring Robert De Niro (in one of his earliest roles) as Jon Rubin, a directionless Vietnam vet and would-be ‘erotic filmmaker’, established Brian De Palma as a formidable directorial talent and premier social satirist.
Convincing local porn guru John Banner (Allen Garfield) to finance his ‘peep art’, Rubin sets up his camera to film the nocturnal activities of his unsuspecting neighbours through their apartment windows and in short order, goes from voyeur to participant to a full-fledged urban guerilla.
When his porn-career plan fails, the disillusioned Rubin turns to a radical theatre group simply to fit in somewhere. Cue the famous “Be Black, Baby” section, shot in a documentary style that could be a movie unto itself.
Scripted by De Palma from a story he co-wrote with Charles Hirsch, this social commentary is bursting with incisive parodies of home movies. TV documentaries and 60s off-Broadway “encounter theatre” groups.
Structurally, the wild and ungainly narrative falls apart, but Hi, Mom! is a complex and ambitious send-up of political extremism, white guilt and media perception, even when it doesn’t work.
Released in some markets as Confessions Of A Peeping John.
Robert De Niro
Uncle Tom Wood
Brian De Palma