7.4/10
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132 user 74 critic

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

R | | Comedy | 2 January 1998 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Woody Allen

Writer:

Woody Allen
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Judy Davis ... Lucy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ... Leslie
Stephanie Roth Haberle ... Janet (as Stephanie Roth)
Dan Frazer ... Janet's Dad
Joel Leffert Joel Leffert ... Norman
Lynn Cohen ... Janet's Mom
Richard Benjamin ... Ken
Joe Buck ... Yankee Announcer (voice)
Jane Hoffman Jane Hoffman ... Grandma
Woody Allen ... Harry Block
Tobey Maguire ... Harvey Stern
Annette Arnold Annette Arnold ... Rosalee
Frederick Rolf Frederick Rolf ... Harvey's Doctor
Elisabeth Kieselstein-Cord ... Rosalee's Sister
Lortensia Hayes Lortensia Hayes ... Jennifer
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Storyline

Harry Block is a well-regarded novelist whose tendency to thinly-veil his own experiences in his work, as well as his un-apologetic attitude and his proclivity for pills and whores, has left him with three ex-wives that hate him. As he is about to be honored for his writing by the college that expelled him, he faces writer's block and the impending marriage of his latest flame to a writer friend. As scenes from his stories and novels pass and interact with him, Harry faces the people whose lives he has affected - wives, lovers, his son, his sister. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Harry Block wrote a bestseller about his best friends. Now, his best friends are about to become his worst enemies. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Fine Line Features

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hebrew

Release Date:

2 January 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Meanest Man in the World See more »

Filming Locations:

Tuxedo, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$356,476, 14 December 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$10,569,071, 8 March 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR (Mono)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), this is the second film in which Caroline Aaron plays Woody Allen's sister. See more »

Goofs

In Harry's line "I once almost ran over a book critic..." the word "book" doesn't match his lips; "book" is dubbed over what looks to be "film." See more »

Quotes

Harry Block: Look, I was merely explaining to you why my choice of necessity is confined to your practice.
See more »

Connections

References Husbands and Wives (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain
(1867)
Written by Modest Mussorgsky
Performed by Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (as L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande)
Conducted by Ernest Ansermet
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Allen at his best
22 August 1999 | by PrimtimeSee all my reviews

Regardless of what Woody Allen may do in real life, he surely shines through his films. Just like the main character in this film who can't seem to get personal matters resolved, Allen faces the same predicament each day. He lets his films do the talking and stays away from the limelight. Deconstructing Harry does him justice in a few sequences as to what he feels and how the media treats him.

This film showcases some of Allen's better quirks when it comes to storywriting and directing. The much used "jump cut" effect helps to create a world that is disjointed from all else. When things are going fine, there are no jump cuts. However when things are less than opportune jump cuts add confusion to the scene and are used more often as the tension increases. The "out of focus" effect is the first of its kind and is very funny. The Robin Williams cameo didn't have much meaning, but his scene was one of the funniest due to him losing his touch. The same effect is used on Allen himself later in the film in another hillarious scene.

The storyline has many layers and isn't at all confusing (as others may have you believe) to the viewer. The use of actors portraying actors in this film is pure Allen genius and is another way that this film differs itself from the crowd. It is not so much that one follows along to see what happens to Harry, but rather to see what is going to happen next. When Allen needs an entourage to go to his alma mater honouring, he ends up taking a very unlikely group. The humour is at times crude and pokes fun at his usual groups (ie - ultraorthodox jews, hookers, WASP's and just about everyone else).

Allen uses his interesting techniques and smart plot to make this such a good film. One can only wonder how he always gets the foxes. At least he got Billy Crystal to play the devil. How fitting.

8/10 stars.


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