Because once you get past the clever and rather effective "parallel stories" gimmick, MELINDA AND MELINDA settles down into one of Woody Allen's more standard stories about the dangers of coveting someone else's wife. Not only do the two tales work on their own, but by framing the stories as the playwrights create 'em over dinner, we're treated to a few insightful statements about the difference between laughing and crying.
Opting to stay behind the camera this time out, Woody hired himself a rock-solid ensemble that includes the fantastic Radha Mitchell, Chloe Sevigny, Jonny Lee Miller, Will Ferrell, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, and Steve Carell. Each actor gets a scene (or three) to steal for themselves, and the chat-heavy interplay between the performers reeks of Woody Allen in rare form. That's not to say that MELINDA AND MELINDA comes close to MANHATTAN or ANNIE HALL status, but it's a welcome return to form from a really talented guy who's been churning out cinematic junk for the past few years. Here's hoping Woody has a few more of these ones in him ... because I don't think I could take another HOLLYWOOD ENDING.