Maybe I was too easy on this because the press was so bad that my expectations were low, but it didn't feel like the awful failure I was prepared for. While certainly not up with Allen's best work, and one of his few films I don't feel a need to see a second time, this still had intelligence, wit, good performances and the bittersweet tone about love and sex that Allen does as well as anyone in film history.
It was also interesting to see him finally accept his age, and play a supporting role as an often funny, but sometimes disturbingly crazy older mentor to a young man in love, instead of playing the romantic lead himself.
Yes, some of the jokes are ancient, and Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci, while both fine, don't have the chemistry of Allen and Keaton in "Annie Hall", which this seems to hearken back to. (I actually thought Ricci was excellent, and quite different from her usual screen persona).
But Allen still creates some rich characters, some fun, literate dialogue, and captures how confusing being young and in love with someone who is deeply messed up but sexy and adorable and smart can be. Many of us have been there.
on December 22, 2012
I think this is a movie that not many people will like since its an existential drama...it really tells the way
life is going for most people all over the world, and the people who are not under the influence the married male analyst and the philosopher played by Allen, are able thanks to their intelligence, to put their heads in the clouds, to live outside of this world, they are closer to their reflections than their sensuality, they reflect and contemplate so what animates the wife, and others is what drives all too many people..is this right? That's his story..Ricci who plays a part in the film had a hard time getting the scenes right with Allen..and you can read her commentary on Allen type dramas..but they are good since there is not much film like this, and it elevates hollywood to have somewhere some making a movie at what the world is going through,,,if we are not seein git why not..and what does that tell us about many films..there are good films..but not many a handful seem to like this film so not many films like this will be made in the future..maybe denial..we dont like to see ourselves reflected..narcissus may be an old greek character...I enjoyed but few would..its an existential drama of ideas..after you watch it you will be depressed and you may see things about others you dont like..critics and audiences alike dont like this film..and said one critic Allen's worse movie..an existential intelligent drama..
It opens with a henny youngman joke, the ancient comedian one of my favourite next to jack benny george burns, were they old vaudevillians. Also God..how human persons change and society and in the drama they use the word ritual, but actually when God disappears from the emotional lives of individuals, and woody the philosopher who is narrator and an interloping character, quite a sophisticated device, very inartistically he plays a part and relates to characters, and narrates action, but thats how he sets up his drama. The married analkyst's wife cheats but she really loves him the most so is disloyal her spouse, who she loves and her lovers, that is why the affairs are of short duration and she keeps breaking them off. Her values are emotional relations, talks with her spouse, and she splits herself off in ways..but eventually this will catch up with her. What she wants is for her spouse to have affairs and her as well and for them just to have an emotional relationship, love, not based on sensual entanglements, the purity of love, and the lovers are in ways trapped..and the philosopher was with a psychiatrist and he ended up in mental ward the psychiatrist drugged him when he didnt believe in his love relationships,,like he was trying to kill someone..I'm just trying to have a relationship..then the psychologist is at a psychiatrist..and he too is having similar problems..like Sartre's "no EXit" the philosopher says or Serlings "Five characters in search of an exit"..everyone seems trapped and all the doctors go around serving this girl? Another person in the play makes a good point..only those willing to make themselves vulnerable will truely love..note the doctor and asthma scene..then we come to Connie..she still wants them to have separate sexual partners..and she wants to know who the partners are since she still loves the husband..but these kinds of relations are of no interest to her..as well as reports of showers the philosopher heard..stories where there are no showers..she develops relations with teachers but he stays alone..the philosopher and psychologist..by psychoanalysis they mean they look for love and values and even religion..thats really what that psychotherapy means..among other things..the philosopher likes simulated experiences...a world where people since all harm to enjoy yourself without involving others in..he cant trust anyone.or can anyone?...eventually the relationship falls apart..and she is off with the doctor..since he's a man who doesnt live up to the values of her husband and she knows he's a misogynist..making women into sex addicts..and removing from their lives the men who help them...an examination of some modern personalities..interesting storyline developed by Woody..and Woody the scenarist is excellent in being able to analyze his characters in such great detail..I'm amazed..a drama also on a modern person who love and actually like to have flings..and how they differentiate the two...the husbands being in the care like the psychiatrist..dont know whats going on until its too late...like showers that dont exist
Existential drama..the fact that we dont like this drama tells you something about the culture we have here..I like plays and if you do serious drama..you may enjoy...the interloping character/narrator is a constant literary device of Woody's..is there anybody who makes drama like Woody's..he comes up with great and sophisticated ideas..and know shis characters so intimately that he cares for them...at the start he says now that god is gone..all men can focus on is women..there are no children since no one seems interested in children..again not many in north america like dit
on July 12, 2004
Anything else id not as good as Allen's other. The neurotic character is more in Biggs character, than in Allen's. Biggs is like a young Allen, and it's not that great. Besides that the movie is pretty funny, not rolling on the floor funny, but funny.
on June 2, 2004
Let's be honest and upfront about this. I love Woody Allen movies and always have, right up through his last truly great film, Bullets Over Broadway. Since then, it's been scattershot. Mighty Aphrodite and Everyone Says I Love You were okay. Hollywood Ending wasn't that bad. Deconstructing Harry was an interesting change of pace. Other than that, I can't say that I've enjoyed any of his more recent films. Celebrity, Small Time Crooks, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion - nearly unwatchable. It almost seems like he's phoning it in.
So turning to Anything Else, it appears that he might have learned some lessons from his previous efforts by removing himself as the romantic lead. Thankfully - who wants to see Woody wooing Christina Ricci? And also thankfully, he gave himself a part that is actually the best one in the film. His wisecracking Dobel generates most of the genuine laugh moments in the plot alongside an under-used Danny DeVito. Unfortunately, since Woody is not playing the main "Woody" character, it's left to Jason Biggs to more or less assume the persona which gave me some qualms, especially remembering Kenneth Branagh's Woody impersonation in Celebrity. Surprisingly, Biggs pulls it off without lapsing into caricature but it's hard to digest that a twenty-something man would just happen to possess all of the neuroses and cultural tastes of Woody Allen as we have come to know him.
The same goes for Christina Ricci. She doesn't do anything horrible in the film but her character becomes very tiresome very quickly and while it enhances the comedy elements surrounding Biggs's character, it's probably not the best idea for a romantic comedy to make one half of the loving pair so annoying.
Stockard Channing is also a wonderful actress with an interesting character who doesn't get enough screen time. I know that a lot of actors make sacrifices just for the sake of being in a Woody Allen movie, but some deserve more when they achieve something. I mentioned Danny DeVito earlier - his scene in the restaurant and Stockard Channing's when she plays the piano are gems.
Fortunately for the film, Jason Biggs can do subtle comedy and his character generates a lot of empathy. Hopefully Woody has found a new niche for himself in his films as a major supporting character. Dobel allows Woody to lapse back into some of his early career schtick without crossing the line that made most of us cringe at some of his more recent work. Just in looking at the advertising and PR for this film, one would never know that it was a Woody Allen movie and it's a shame that it's come to the point where his name might be construed as a negative.
on May 25, 2004
Woody Allen's films have been gifts, balms, salves in my life -
when every other thing that happens around me seems to be
a knock on Camus' door of unhappiness. His films may appear
to be more and more flawed - but not to me.
Robert Motherwell said, " All of my life I've been working the work...Each picture is only an approximation of what you want...you can never
make the absolute statement, but the desire to do so as an approximation keeps you going. " Think about Woody Allen's
career as a film maker - and perhaps this movie will not stand
out, but there are qualities in it that do.
Imagine a retrospective of the best moments of Woody's films, like
the coda-retrospectives in some of them ( Annie Hall ) - it would
be an amazing collage of scenes and lines that we remember
and quote and are reminded of every day.
It is hard to like Anything Else. Christina Ricci's character, no matter how well-played, no matter how agreeable she is to look at, is unbearable.
I rented the movie, and had to turn it off now and then, because I
couldn't understand why Jason Biggs didn't hand her her hat or
Were it not for Woody's character, I may have cancelled the movie.
Dobel ( Allen ) is so nimble-minded, clever in scathing thought
( I'll quote his comment about vomiting in Carnegie Hall to my
college art students ) that I would have been satisfied by the scenes
of Jason and Woody alone.
They both stammer. Woody, like Jimmy Stewart, has made stammering
an art. If you have a problem with one actor stammering, get ready.
Jerry Falk ( Biggs ) can't get through a thought without an eraser.
The music is perfect.
The sly references will please those who grasp
them, and alienate those who don't. Some are just slivers: a couple
exit a movie house and we hear the man say something about why didn't the dinner guests just get up and leave? Woody is honoring
Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel, and sending a little
Valentine to those in the audience who know it.
There are no special effects, eviscerations, frontal nudity, car
chases --- just people talking with people about what ( some )
people talk about. These are my favorites movies. Anything Else
won't get high mention in Woody's obituary - but I dare you not
to be amused every time Jason appears in his therapist's office - or
not to add Dobel to the list of nuanced visionaries and nutcakes
that Woody has created and given to us.
Woody Allen has never failed to amuse - until now. This story seems like a rehashed Allen film with a new actor portraying the neurotic Woody. Jason Biggs just doesn't fit the part. He's awkward in the wrong way. Ricci survives slightly more, but still has trouble delivering that Woody Allen female lead brashness that is so vital in most of his films. Even the story is hackneyed and there are very few surprises. Devito puts in his usual manic performance and gives a rather funny performance in a restaurant feigning a heart attack, but that's about it. Suddenly, I am finding I don't want his "earlier, funnier movies". One can only be sure that his next film has to be better.
on March 14, 2004
As in most of his movies, Woody Allen tapped into the most sacred thing he could find for inspiration - himself. It was a fairly typical Woody Allen movie, composed of Woody Allen himelf, characters that were Woody Allen in essence, a sprinkling of poignant racism, and the females that Woody Allen really wants to sleep with, but never really could, and makes up for in his own private fantasies. Despite the fact that the actors and actresses had big names, the acting was horrible, because not everyone is Woody Allen and/or meant to act EXACTLY like him. Again, like most Woody Allen films, he focused on his expert "advice," along with a few completely meaningless jokes, simply added to show how "funny" he really is.
I would have to say, however, that this film would be loved by any Woody Allen fan, as it is pretty much the same, give or take a few big names and scenes, as all of his other films. I can understand and almost sympathize with some people for finding enjoyment in Woody Allens intense vocabulary and interesting tastes, and even some who are infatuated with the same sort of hopeless sexual fantasies that he drums up; but two stuttering, insecure "meeks" who have plans to "inherit the Earth" where just a bit too much for me to stomach for all 38 hours of this 1 hour and 45 minute long movie.
on March 13, 2004
In "Anything Else," Woody Allen stars as David Dobel, a much older mentor to a young and impressionable Jerry Falk, played by Jason Biggs. As the lights dim, the audience is ushered into the latest Allen production by the sound of retro music. Also typical of the writer and director's films, the movie is set in Manhattan.
Much of the film is comprised of Allen staples. In fact, the only two things that seem to be out of place are the main characters, Biggs as Falk and Christina Ricci as Amanda. It is as if the casting agent blindly picked out two of the most popular teenybopper actors of today and threw them into the movie without regard for subject matter, dialogue or context.
Amanda and Jerry live in the latter's apartment, which is inexplicably inhabited by old furnishings, better suited for a lower middle class grandmother. The audience is never told why the young couple's abode is decorated in such a manner, nor does it add anything to the script. Ikea, many a poor, post-graduate's favorite interior designer, would have provided a more believable and far less distracting setting, if the target audience is the latest crop of boy band chasers.
This kind of uneasy dichotomy seems to run through the whole movie. The young stars seem to have been picked to draw in a younger audience. Yet, everything else is old. Allen is old, the furniture is old, and the music is old. Even Amanda and Falk's tastes are old by today's Gen-Y standards. In a scene set in the Village Vanguard, the couple discuss Humphrey Bogart, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. As Diana Krall ends a song, Amanda remarks that, "She is so moving." Later, Jerry tries to woo Amanda in a music store by offering to purchase her a vinyl album of Cole Porter music.
Allen's script is wholly mismatched for Biggs and Ricci. The work is better suited for more mature actors and audiences. It's what one would expect of an Allen love-child with the producers of "Dawson's Creek" except there aren't any compelling and contrived dramas.
The film plods along with several different plotlines running and never quite meeting or making a solid point. It's almost like watching a disjointed reality television show about a random guy's life without having all the boring parts edited out. Even the normally seductive and conniving Ricci is reduced to being a neurotic and body obsessed female with a gratingly whiny voice.
To Allen's credit, he does provide a few laughs with his writing. True to form, much of the movie is comprised of quick banter between the characters. Lines like "There was something compelling about your apathy," and "Don't be so middle class," are gems only Allen himself could dream up.
However, these highlights may not compel audiences to choose this film. If you overhear someone saying that he wants to see "anything else," don't be surprised if he actually means he want to see anything --other than the movie of the same name.
on February 26, 2004
Take a look at the artwork on the front of the case..it looks like a romantic comedy. Unfortunately after picking up this movie and taking it home, some people will see that is it anything but...or at least it isn't a romantic comedy in the strict sense of being a "chick flick". I like Allen's well read, broad vocabulary character Dobel...laugh out loud scenes galore with this guy. The use of Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci (even Jimmy Fallon) help the aging Allen bond with a new generation of viewers. There are many people who marry right out of college and fall on circumstances not unlike the woes of Falk. The mother also shows an air of "youth lost" or symbolizes a fountain of youth seeker. The dynamic of these characters together prove the movie is targeting a younger audience. I mean, Allen smashing car windows and handling a rifle?!? LOL That's reaching for him.
The story is not a mid-life crisis story as Allen is famous for...and I find that quite refreshing. True, the movie is about overcoming complacency and bad situations, but it is also very hopeful and positive in terms of moving on. Perfect movie for "twentysomethings."
on January 29, 2004
This is Woody Allen for the post-9/11 world, a world and a New York still funny and neurotic and overly preoccupied with love and death, but whose paranoia seems now more than justified.
There is much to recommend this film: the great typically Allenesque comic dialogue; the wonderful songs of Billie Holiday; the beautiful, little-heard Peggy Lee ballad given a heart-wrenching reading by Stockard Channing (part of a fine, quirky performance); Danny DeVito's over-the-top scene in the restaurant... Contrary to what you may have read, the leads do a fine job here, and the character played by Allen himself is at once hilarious and disturbing and most fun to watch and listen to. His scenes with Jason Biggs, many showing off the beauty of Central Park in summer, by themselves are worth the price of admission.