In Netflix’s The Last Laugh, Al Hart (Chevy Chase) is a retired talent agent who bumps into his first client, former stand-up comic Buddy Green (Richard Dreyfuss), and convinces him to get back on stage. The two embark on a hilarious journey to fulfill unpursued dreams, which sounds like a premise that could have easily come from a great novel. But is The Last Laugh based on a book?
I turns out that while there are many books with the same title, The Last Laugh is not based on any book. The movie was written and directed by screenwriter and indie filmmaker, Greg Pritikin, who also wrote films like Surviving Eden and Dummy. In an interview with Parade, Pritikin revealed that his inspiration for the film came from a group of 80-year-olds he and friend Paul Mazursky would have breakfast with.
“We and a group of guys in their 80s had breakfast every morning at the farmer’s market in Hollywood,” Pritikin told Parade. “We did this for years and this was a group of the smartest, funniest men I had ever met. Some were comedians, some were trying to work and it was eye-opening—these guys were in their 80s, but they weren’t old men. Their bodies had aged, but they had no desire to give up.”
When talking to Deadline, Pritikin said that he wrote the story to prove that dreams can be lived, no matter what age you are. “For me, The Last Laugh is about learning to let go of the past and embrace the present,” said Pritikin. “It’s about rediscovering and remembering how to live. There is a grace in growing old and in letting go of the hustle and ambition, and embracing this new season in your life. I think people are happier at this point. It’s about letting go of the past and embracing the now.”
In The Last Laugh, Al is a widower who is desperately trying to cement his legacy with one great breakout star. Buddy, who was once a rising comic, gave up a spot on The Tonight Show and eventually his entire comedy career, to become a Beverly Hills podiatrist. The two old friends unexpectedly reunite at a retirement home, and begin talking about what could have been.
Al convinces Buddy to get back into comedy, and the two decide to take a bucket list tour of the best comedy clubs in America. They begin their road trip in California, and head all the way to New York with the hopes of getting back on national TV. The film follows Al and Buddy on this quest of rediscovery, and there are lots of laughs along the way.
So while it isn’t based on a book, at its heart, The Last Laugh is a story that inspires hope and proves that it's never too late to stop dreaming, no matter how old you are.
The Last Laugh is available to stream on Netflix.
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