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Melinda and Melinda
DVD disk
Oct 25, 2005 By: Scott Weinberg
Melinda and Melinda order
Director:
Woody Allen

Actors:
Radha Mitchell
Will Ferrell
Amanda Peet

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A pair of playwrights spend a dinner conversation politely debating over which dramatic approach is more appealing: comedy or tragedy. Their discussions create two parallel stories (one comic, one tragic) in which a depressed woman barges in on some old friends, and turns their romantic lives upside-down.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
As a huge fan of several Woody Allen films, yet someone amazingly disappointed in the prolific filmmaker's last several projects, I looks towards MELINDA AND MELINDA as a return to form for the hard-working movie machine. So to say that this flick is a big step up from stuff like ANYTHING ELSE and THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION is not exactly doling out huge praise. But fans of the mid-career Woody Allen, the one who gave us HANNAH AND HER SISTERS and CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, should find a lot of stuff to like here besides the dual-story gimmick.

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.

THE EXTRAS
Zero.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
This is a movie that Woody Allen could have written while sleeping, but it's a testament to the guy's scribe skills that he can still bang out a movie that feels a little familiar -- while also delivering a slyly unique little trick. Ms. Mitchell delivers a pair of excellent performances, and Will Ferrell fans will undoubtedly enjoy his antics here, although they're a little saner and milder than what we're normally used to.
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