7.4/10
40,732
135 user 77 critic

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

R | | Comedy | 2 January 1998 (USA)
Trailer
0:29 | Trailer
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 4 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 has written a best seller... bout his best friends... he revealed their deepest secrets... and they're not pleased... now Harry Block is going to Hell... 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

Gross USA:

$10,686,841

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,686,841
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

The film is a general reworking of Woody Allen's earlier film Stardust Memories (1980), which also had an artist go to a ceremony in his honor, while reminiscing over past relationships and trying to fix and stabilize current ones. 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: All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it.
See more »

Connections

References Husbands and Wives (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

All the Things You Are
(1939)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Art Tatum-Ben Webster Quartet
Featuring George 'Red' Callender (as Red Callendar) and Bill Douglass (as Bill Douglas)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One Of Woody's Best
22 September 2002 | by tonstant viewerSee all my reviews

In a string of films that recapitulate familiar themes, this one stands out as perhaps the loudest cry of anguish and self-loathing, and it's a comedy.

Where Woody Allen has paid serious hommages to other artists' bleak "heaviosity" (his word) and inevitably come up short, here he does a blistering comic riff on two of the greatest films of the 20th century, Bergman's "Wild Strawberries" and Fellini's "8½."

The parallels to the Bergman film are obvious and much discussed. The bits of Fellini are less often recognized, including the complaining wife, the impossible mistress, other people's demands creating a totally chaotic existence, closing with a yearning fantasy of getting everybody in his life together in one place and time to create harmony and wholeness. In Woody's version, we even have a double for Mia in the reunion, as if some kind of healing reconciliation were possible.

So Woody hits the wall, looks at his life, can't stand any of it and rips the bark off his own skin. What can seem like self-indulgence in other films is not forgiven here. He writes scathing, vituperative attacks on himself for other character's mouths and the viewer can only gape.

Lots of fun, but not for the whole family.

The only mystery is why, at the time I write this, Imdb singles out such a lame misfire of a slam for the first page of this movie's entry. Just about anybody else who has posted has a better understanding of the film.


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