In medias res: narrator Jerry Falk, a fledgling comedy writer with an inept agent, is about to celebrate an anniversary with his girlfriend Amanda. There's trouble in paradise: she's late (and has already eaten), she's been uninterested in sex for months, and her quixotic mother is moving in with them. Jerry looks back to meeting Amanda and dumping Brooke. A constant is his friendship with another wannabe comedy writer, a 60 year old teacher named David, prone to long walks and advice filled talks. As Amanda and Jerry's relationship founders and her mom's noisy presence makes writing difficult for him, he and David plan something different. Wouldn't anything else be better? Written by
Jerry's reference to a very funny comedian who wrote "Never Trust A Naked Bus Driver" was referring to Jack Douglas, who also wrote 'My Brother Was An Only Child'. See more »
Jerry Falk refers to a baked cannoli when in fact cannoli shells are deep fried not baked. Perhaps, Woody Allen was thinking of cannelloni. See more »
You know, there's great wisdom in jokes, Falk, really. There's an old joke about a prizefighter who's in the ring, and he's getting killed, he's getting his brains beat out; and his mother's in the audience, and she's watching him getting beaten up in the ring, and there's a priest next to her, and she says 'Father, father, pray for him, pray for him!' The priest says 'I will pray for him, but if he could punch it would help!' There's more insight in that joke, into what I call the...
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Woody lets the young stars take over--to charming effect
Woody Allen steps back from himself in ANYTHING ELSE and turns center stage over to a couple of young protagonists who are allowed to thrash around and make their own mistakes, with only a little kibitzing from the side by Woody. In the process, the film tackles all of the larger issues of life, love, ethics and the loneliness of man in the universe that Woody has grappled with, in varying degrees of clarity, in so many of his earlier films, but does it in a way that charms and tickles the audience and, ultimately, reassures them. While Woody's character has a dark, paranoid streak to him, the film is nowhere near as bitter and acidic (nor as profound) as DECONSTRUCTING HARRY (1997), the last film of Allen's to address these issues head-on.
Woody plays a sage/mentor to a young comedy writer who's trying to write a dark, existential novel. The writer, Jerry Falk (played by Jason Biggs of AMERICAN PIE fame), is saddled with a clinging manager (Danny DeVito), who keeps using inappropriate (but amusing) Garment Center metaphors, and is mired in a hopeless relationship with Amanda, a whirlwind of a young woman who sucks people into her life and then treats them badly. Played to perfection by Christina Ricci, Amanda is smart, seductive, and clearly exciting to be around, but is a bundle of deadly neuroses that will take a lifetime to untangle. We see her future self reflected in her narcissistic, childlike mother (Stockard Channing in a wonderful comic supporting performance), who comes to stay with the couple early in the film.
It's all about Jerry coming to grips with who he is, what he wants to do, and what it will take for him to get there. And it's Woody, playing a schoolteacher near retirement age who wants to tackle a comedy writing career late in life for himself, who serves as the catalyst for Jerry. Thus, the movie encapsulates, in, perhaps, an overly tidy fashion, the broad advice Woody wants to dispense to the younger members of his audience. While it's occasionally cartoonish and sometimes veers narrowly toward the heavy-handed, it also gives us a more confident and lively Woody, one who is freed from the self-imposed demands of being the romantic lead. Overall, it's a delightful, charming, funny and genuinely touching film which not only makes very good use of its young stars, but also of its writer-director-co-star-turned elder statesman.
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