7.4/10
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Deconstructing Harry (1997)

R | | Comedy | 2 January 1998 (USA)
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0:31 | Trailer

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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

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

Harry invites Lucy to take off her coat a moment after she does so. See more »

Quotes

The Devil: You ever fuck a blind girl?
Harry Block: No. That I never did.
The Devil: Oh, they're so grateful.
See more »

Connections

References Alice (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Waiting
(1993)
Written by Glenn Dickson
Performed by the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra
Courtesy of Northeastern Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Vulgar, funny, honest, sad, a little bizarre
3 March 1999 | by Kiwi-7See all my reviews

Woody bares his soul--again--and if the introspective vision of the sad clown (growing old) isn't what you're expecting, the film is likely to be a disappointment. The film is funny, of course, and vulgar (as most Allen movies are), but it's also bitter and cynical, and rather sad.

The jerky jump-cuts might be a stylized editing cover-up for jumping from take to take to utilise the best performances of a pantheon of actors, or they might be planned...I don't know. I had to see a few of them before I settled into accepting them as "the style", but I decided they work in this film.

Other "user comments" complain about Woody and the sexy young women. That bothers me in some films, but not here. Here it's part of Harry's character--part of Woody's "character"--and is clearly part of his problem.

I think this is an honest film, a sad and revealing film about one of the most clever and creative writers in America. It's funny, it's witty, and it's also depressing. It has moments of pure, laugh-out-loud humour (eg. the elevator going down to the bottom floor of hell; Harry arriving at the honouring ceremony with a dead body, a prostitute, and his "kidnapped" son in the car), but underneath it's the story of a man who cannot function happily in real life, only in the fictions he creates. Although fantasy plays a major role in the story, the story is not a fantasy. The parallels between Allen himself and the character and plot he's created here are obvious.

I enjoyed watching this video, and would recommend it-- selectively--to friends. If you like the Allen sense of humour, want to see a fairly unusual editing style used effectively, want to see some superb acting cameos by some very talented actors, or have an interest in the torments of a neurotic middle-aged genius and how they might be revealed on film, then you'll like this movie. If this doesn't sound like your kind of thing, watch something else.


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