Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
A director is forced to work with his ex-wife, who left him for the boss of the studio bankrolling his new film. But the night before the first day of shooting, he develops a case of psychosomatic blindness.
Lenny and Amanda have an adopted son Max who turns out to be brilliant. Lenny becomes obsessed with finding Max's real parents because he believes that they too must be brilliant. When he finds that Linda Ash is Max' real mother, Lenny is disappointed. Linda is a prostitute and porn star. On top of that, she is quite possibly the dumbest person Lenny has ever met. Interwoven is a Greek chorus linking the story with the story of Oedipus. Written by
Jason Ihle <email@example.com>
a trifle in Woody Allen's career, but a good and amusing one all the same
I don't think Woody Allen was aiming very high with Mighty Aphrodite, and it's just as well that his targets are lowered onto one of the most "light" comedies ever made about a prostitute and a sports writer, with a Greek chorus in tow. You know the Greek chorus, chiming in at those moments when drama might need a little heightening, and if needed adding some unintentional humor to the process of a story like Antigone (actually, it's not a very funny story, but besides the point). Woody Allen combines with a fair amount of his usual wit a film that plays upon the big moral quandaries that are juxtaposed by a it's own built-in audience within the story; occasionally, one of the Greek chorus members (F. Murray Abraham especially, in one of his funniest roles) comes directly to Woody's character telling him 'what are you doing?' in a scene of near-classic Woody-nervousness comedy. It almost leans on becoming a little too goofy to deal with, as the story itself should have enough weight on its own to go without a sidebar of fantasy. But it does help garner some big laughs; where else will you see Zeus with his answering machine on?
Woody Allen plays the aforementioned sports writer, who's married to a preoccupied art curator (Helena Bonham Carter), and together with her has an adopted son. He starts to get curious about where his son originally came from, as he seems very bright and an above average kid even at the age of five. After some prodding and searching, he comes upon the mother: Leslie, aka Linda St. James, aka Lucy C** (Mira Sorvino, in a somewhat deserving Oscar turn). A prostitute and sometimes porno actress, she soon goes under Woody's character as a new woman, breaking away- slowly and with some trouble with her "business manager"- into a normal life. Although Allen does go to some lengths to make Linda, and even Carter's character, pretty well-rounded characters, he himself sort of stays in a narrow role as either the usual Woody nebbish with many a quick wisecrack (i.e. first meeting Linda at her apartment, surrounded by a screwing pig clock and cacti with genitalia, and his run-in with her 'manager' at a seedy bar), or as the surrogate match-maker for Linda to go on with a new life with a new man.
A lot of this leads to funny scenes, not least of which surrounding what is in the subtext rather sad, of the situation of how she gave up her son for adoption and that it's never said outright what the truth is about Woody showing up to her, and there's somehow through what is potentially troublesome material some laugh-out-loud scenes. A scene that is meant, conventionally, just for character development like at the race track where Linda bets on the "Eager Beaver" is a riot, as well as the arranging of the first date with her and Michael Rappaport's dim-witted farmer/boxer. And Allen even attempts for a wallop of whimsy at the end when irony is piled up high, and everyone is seen, simply put, being in a level of bliss with their respective lot in life. If it isn't totally focused as a better Woody Allen picture, it may be because it works a little better when around the Allen/Sorvino connection, as opposed to the whole side-story involving him and his wife, which could be picked out from any random Woody Allen movie (and not necessarily a very involving side-story either).
There's a good few laughs, a couple of brilliant zingers, and better than average performances turned in. Like Bullets Over Broadway it's a successful attempt at presenting dramatic subject matter in a light-hearted fashion, if not as deep or layered as the former.
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