Anything Else

Alas, our “title joke” thread provides an apt segue into this movie.

1. Would you like to see a great Woody Allen movie?
2. Isn’t there Anything Else?

Could be Woody Allen’s lowest point. It would be easy to point to Jason Biggs’s stiff, forced, lifeless performance, but I don’t think it’s his fault. Because the movie is full of stiff, forced, lifeless performances. Actors as diverse in talent as Christina Ricci, Danny De Vito, Jimmy Fallon and Allen himself all give performances pitched at the same level of stiff, forced lifelessness.

Problem seems to be that Allen’s directoral instincts and rhythms seem simply off somehow. Scenes that should play nimbly and spontaneous come off as stagy and hollow, actors waiting for their cues instead of humans having a conversation.

And then there’s the script, anacronistic and off-tone. Young people in their 20s, in 2003, kvetch about their therapy and hotel-room prices, talk about their love of Billie Holliday 78s and Edna Millay, make their living writing for nightclub acts and excitedly jump in a cab to go see Diana Krall.

Scenes are over-explained, stale jokes are flogged, wordy lines fall flat and lie still.

Woody does get the best scenes when he goes into his cranky, paranoid old man routine, and he gets one point for using a Moby song in a nightclub scene, an actual up-to-date, current piece of music in a movie set in present day.
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9 Responses to “Anything Else”
  1. craigjclark says:

    I have a hard time deciding whether this film or The Curse of the Jade Scorpion represents the nadir of Allen’s career. I blame his lack of effort on the fact that at the time he was contractually obligated to make comedies instead of the kinds of films he wanted to make. Clearly, when given the freedom to indulge his muse — as he was when he made Match Point — makes for a happier Allen and a much, much better film.

  2. Todd says:

    It occurs to me, upon reflection, that this movie may in some way be the “other half” of Anhedonia, the movie that became Annie Hall. I know, he mentions somewhere that Manhattan Murder Mystery is the other half, but if you look at the plot elements, the young comedy writer working for nitwits, the bumbling, out-of-date manager, the lure of Los Angeles, the pining for lost love and the free-form queasiness in the face of the universe, Anything Else is almost a sequel, more like an appendix, to Annie Hall.

  3. r_sikoryak says:

    So this isn’t the Woody movie to show to K.
    Too bad, I was glad to see he’d cast a few youngsters.

    Well, at least Moby got some royalties.

    • Todd says:

      I’m tellin’ ya, Bullets Over Broadway. My hand to God, best chance.

      • urbaniak says:

        K is not versed in the work of Woody Allen? I would think “Love and Death” would be right up her street.

        • Todd says:

          Like Marge Simpson, she doesn’t mind his movies, if only they didn’t have that nervous little guy in them.

          • r_sikoryak says:

            Oh, sure, K. liked “Bullets Over Broadway,” and “Love and Death” is her favorite of his films.
            But one night we accidentally watched “Curse of the Jade Scorpion,” which isn’t going to help anybody who’s on the fence.

            Todd, I believe Marge Simpson actually likes “Woodsy Allen,” but Ned Flanders can’t watch the nervous fella.

            • Todd says:

              1. Perfect avatar. Congratulations.
              2. Curse of the Jade Scorpion is an aberration, a bad Woody Allen movie to stand out among all other bad Woody Allen movies. Even Anything Else you could say at least recalls other, better Woody Allen movies. But Curse is both an experiment and a failure, and incidentally, the very first Woody Allen movie where I was surprised to find that it didn’t even look good. And, if memory serves, Helen Hunt is unwatchable in it.

  4. dougo says:

    Oops, I guess I should finish reading your whole journal before I comment in the wrong place.