Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker

Barry Sonnenfeld (Author)


Film and television director Barry Sonnenfeld's outrageous and hilarious memoir traces his idiosyncratic upbringing in New York City, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, and beloved work like Get Shorty, Pushing Daises, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Barry Sonnenfeld's philosophy is, "Regret the Past. Fear the Present. Dread the Future." Told in his unmistakable voice, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother is a laugh-out-loud memoir about coming of age. Constantly threatened with suicide by his over-protective mother, disillusioned by the father he worshiped, and abused by a demonic relative, Sonnenfeld somehow went on to become one of Hollywood's most successful producers and directors.

Written with poignant insight and real-life irony, the book follows Sonnenfeld from childhood as a French horn player through graduate film school at NYU, where he developed his talent for cinematography. His first job after graduating was shooting nine feature length pornos in nine days. From that humble entrée, he went on to form a friendship with the Coen Brothers, launching his career shooting their first three films.

Though Sonnenfeld had no ambition to direct, Scott Rudin convinced him to be the director of The Addams Family. It was a successful career move. He went on to direct many more films and television shows. Will Smith once joked that he wanted to take Sonnenfeld to Philadelphia public schools and say, "If this guy could end up as a successful film director on big budget films, anyone can." This book is a fascinating and hilarious roadmap for anyone who thinks they can't succeed in life because of a rough beginning.

Product Details

$29.00  $26.68
Hachette Books
Publish Date
March 10, 2020
6.3 X 1.2 X 9.2 inches | 1.3 pounds

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About the Author

Barry Sonnenfeld is a filmmaker and writer who broke into the film industry as the cinematographer on the Coen Brothers' first three films: Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, and Miller's Crossing. He also was the director of photography on Throw Mamma from the Train, Big, When Harry Met Sally, and Misery. Sonnenfeld made his directorial debut with The Addams Family in 1991, and has gone on to direct a number of films including Addams Family Values, Get Shorty, and the first three Men in Blacks. His television credits include Pushing Daisies, for which he won an Emmy, and most recently Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events.


"Sonnenfeld makes his debut as a memoirist with a brisk, funny recounting of his improbable rise to fame in the movie world...Zesty anecdotes about family, marriage, and fatherhood combine with Hollywood gossip to make for an entertaining romp."--Kirkus Reviews
"Barry's memoir is amazingly honest and brazenly hilarious. Now excuse me, I need to take a shower and try to get some of those images out of my head."--Cheryl Hines
"If I went to prison, and I saw that Barry Sonnenfeld was going to be my cellmate, I would think, 'Oh, this will be a breeze.'"--Jerry Seinfeld
"Anyone who has encountered Barry for any length of time has wondered how he came to be the way he is. The answer is hilariously, poignantly, and forthrightly told through various stories that resulted in me feeling nauseous, laughing out loud, blushing, and repeatedly saying under my breath, 'Oh my God, Barry.' Sometimes all of those things at once."--Allison Williams
"Barry Sonnenfeld's memoir is not unlike many of his films. It's an incredible story about an unlikely hero. There is action, adventure, comedy, horror-and just a little bit of porn."--Kelly Ripa

"Hilarious, full of heart, and there are no typos."
--Max Greenfield

"Funny, wry, and thoroughly entertaining memoir. Sonnenfeld is, above all, a storyteller."--Bookpage

"The most purely enjoyable memoir I've ever read. The content of this neurotic genius's life is fascinating, complimented by his rare gift of storytelling."
--Patrick Warburton
"A candid, sometimes dark, entertaining, anecdotal trip down memory lane from a Hollywood icon."--Booklist
"[Sonnenfeld's] moments of self-effacement...make him an ideal tour guide through the vagaries and hypocrisies of the entertainment industry.... He catalogs his own anxieties at length, sometimes to exorcise them and sometimes to fetishize them.... It is thrilling to ride shotgun."--David Itzkoff, The New York Times

"Barry Sonnenfeld's new book is all the feels. Can't recommend it enough.....He's... an absolutely remarkable storyteller."--Neil Patrick Harris

"Hilarious."--Ryan Seacrest, "Live with Kelly and Ryan"
"Sonnenfeld's autobiography is laced with funny, sometimes absurd, moments.--WBUR
"Exactly everything a good memoir should be."--Audible Editorial

"Writing a book this sharp, [Sonnenfeld is] puncturing the myth of the Director as God....A wild account of his life and times....Here we have not only a new entrant in the movie-director memoir genre but an even rarer beast: a book by someone in the entertainment industry who is neither self-aggrandizing nor self-important but uniquely, and painfully, candid."--The Wall Street Journal

"A neurotic, revelatory treat...[Sonnenfeld] spins eye-opening yarns....It's brutally honest...memorable and hilarious."
"Outrageous and hilarious...written with poignant insight and real-life irony."--KATU AM Northwest
"An extremely Jewy memoir."--Jewish Telegraphic Agency
"I couldn't put it down."
--Marc Maron