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Anything Else (2003)
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Review Date: September 17, 2003
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Producers: Letty Aronson
Actors:
Jason Biggs
Christina Ricci
Woody Allen
Plot:
A twenty-something year old guy, in love with his twenty-something year old girlfriend must deal with the fact that she no longer has the inclination to make love to him anymore-although she still "loves him", according to her. Advice from his tight-lipped shrink, his likely-to-be psychotic comic friend and pathetic agent don't help him much more than his own girlfriend's suggestion that he "sleep around" with other women. So what kind of story is this? Well, it's like anything else...
Critique:
There were a few problems that I had with this film, but if I had to break it down to one specific issue, I guess it would be that there was a certain lack of...what do you call it...story! Yeah, sure...there's the so-called plot about a guy and his girlfriend troubles, but really, this film is basically just an excuse for Woody Allen to slap together many of his funny one-liners, most of which he's able to deliver himself through a deliberately over-the-top, yet quite humorous, secondary character. I appreciated many of this film's rapid-fire zingers, but the problem was that every time the jokes would stop, I was stuck listening to folks complaining over and over and over and over again. I mean, jeez Louise...if I wanted to hear folks kvetch for two hours straight, I'd go to my weekly AA meetings like I should be. How am I supposed to give a rat's behind about the two lead characters when they're basically developed as a pussy-whipped, sniveling, wimp on the one hand and a frigid, slutty, controlling woman on the other (it's no help that their dialogue also sounded a lot like they were coming from a 60-something year old man, as opposed to 21-year old kids) I didn't like either of these two characters and considering that they're basically the crux of this entire movie, well...you can imagine why I'm not more enthused about it all. Thankfully for Allen, his own character is a delight, despite being an all-out space cadet, and continually jazzed up the film whenever he showed up on screen. Danny DeVito's agent character was also good, but we really didn't get much sense from any of the other secondary characters. Stockard Channing and Jimmy Fallon (who looked out of place in this film to begin with), for example, didn't really have much to do here.

There were, however, several scenes that worked very well in the movie, including one in which Christina Ricci's character hyperventilates, another featuring cocaine and a laptop ('nuff said) and one in which Biggs and Fallon go out on a double-date. A majority of the one-liners also worked, including one of my personal Allen-esque favorites: "I would commit suicide, but I have so many problems that even that wouldn't solve them all."-I'm paraphrasing really badly here. Allen's character also had a load of stories that were pretty funny, including one stutter-filled diatribe about how he ended up in a mental ward, simply because he wanted his girlfriend back. Fun times. The ending, on the other hand, was pretty vacant with an unimpressive resolution and nothing learned. I did really like Ricci's performance in the film though (and the fact that she pranced around in her underwear a lot...thank you!) She looked and felt right at home in a Woody Allen movie, unlike Jason Biggs, who didn't feel "right" to me at first, but eventually warmed himself into the part. The film also featured many of the more typical Allen trademarks including many overly literate quotes, talk of neurosis, death, Jews and the holocaust (he even re-uses the same "Did'you...Jew" joke from ANNIE HALL), as well as an old school jazzy soundtrack and a gorgeous New York City. I didn't think the music worked as well in this film because it felt more contemporary than his usual fare, especially with younger adults starring in it, but the scenes in Central Park were beautiful, as were the many scenes filmed indoors (their apartment had that cozy orange feel to it).

So yes, despite being a major Woody Allen fan, I will continue to say what I've been saying about most of his recent releases and that is that he should try taking a year off every now and then in order to revitalize his creative juices. I still believe him to be as funny as anyone in show business, but if he keeps cranking out half-assed flicks like this one for the next few years, he might eventually only be remembered as "that guy who used to make great movies", instead of the guy who continued to create impressive productions all the way to the end. A video rental for sure, especially if you're an Allen fan, although possibly too highbrow for your average teenager. "Funny is money"-not all the time, my friend...not all the time.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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