This tale of Gene Wilder as a Gary Trudeau-like celebrity political humourist doesn't work as comedy, drama or romance. The screenplay by Norman Steinberg and David Frankel is based on an Esquire article by Bob Greene entitled Convention of the Love Goddesses, which is represented by Wilder speaking at an all female college, declaring that men are "self-pitying" and in awe of women. However this hardly qualifies as feminism, which director Leonard Nimoy amusingly plays with by having Wilder's car pass a line of phallic trees. The only relationship he seems to have with a woman where Wilder isn't controlling or negative is his affair with the much younger Mary Stuart Masterson, and even this is invalidated by his unwillingness to declare his emotion, echoed in Sotto Voce being the name of a featured restaurant.
The main romance here is with Christine Lahti. At first her disinterest in him gives her some strength. She is a waitress at a book signing event of his yet unimpressed with his fame. However wardrobe dress her in Annie Hall-wear and soon she is revealed to be self-consciously weak, which diminishes Lahti's otherwise appealing qualities. The inability of the couple to bear a child sours their relationship, and Lahti bears the teary-eyed guilt.
What is noticable about the treatment is the parallels to be made with Woody Allen movies, specifically Annie Hall and Manhattan. Masterson is a bad driver like Diane Keaton was, and swears the way Keaton did in Manhattan, and the age difference recalls Allen and Mariel Hemmingway. Wilder too gets his share of arrogant jokes at the expense of others, and has Allen's ability to extend his performance beyond the comic persona. His reductive James Cagney imitation is about the only thing I liked.
At first Nimoy paces at a clip, aided by the music score of Miles Goodman, but soon the timing comes to a holt and we're left stranded with people we'd rather do without. It's not encouraging that Anne Jackson as Wilder's acerbic mother is quickly disposed of. The treatment's continued coverage of Lahti telegraphs events, and only the most desperate of romantics can be pleased with the conclusion.