Anything Else revisted, incredibly

Christina Ricci has seen the future.  Or maybe the past.  It’s a little confusing.

LJer dougo has sent this utterly flabbergasting piece of analysis.

For those of you unable or unwilling to click on the link, I’m going to repeat the gist of the information here anyway, just because I think that it will be a healthy exercise for me to do so, that I might slowly get myself used to this idea.

A while back, I typed up this little piece on Woody Allen’s Anything Else, referring to it as “Woody Allen’s low point.”  Normally I find that when I don’t like a great director’s movie, it’s because there was some other level to it that I couldn’t appreciate, but Anything Else is one of those movies where you’ve really, really got to be a glutton for punishment to have to want to watch it again, because there honestly doesn’t seem to be anything going on under the lame, disorganized comedy you’re watching.

Well, it turns out that dougo has discovered that there may, in fact, be something else going on under that lame, disorganized comedy.  Namely, a (work with me here) time travel comedy, wherein Woody Allen plays the older version of himself (Jason Biggs), who comes back in time to save his younger self from following his own life’s path.  Now, suddenly, the ending, which doesn’t work on any level as is, starts to take on a whole new comic dimension. (In the movie, Woody tells Jason to join him on a new job in LA, then panics at the last minute and says that he can’t go because, of all things, he’s shot a police officer and is on the lam.  It makes a whole lot more sense, and is funnier, if, for some reason, Woody’s time machine is failing and he ducks out on Jason in order to get back to his own time.  Christ, the movie almost becomes Back to the Future.)  (It would also make sense that Jason Bigg’s character is actually from the 1950s, which would explain his love of torchy jazz and his anachronistic attitudes about present-day NYC.)  (Jesus, now that I think about it, maybe there was a third part of the movie, all about Jason’s life in the 1950s, which he escaped in order to get to what is now our present.  Then his future self comes back to rescue him from the 2000s.  Now that would have been some kick-ass movie!)

Now, ordinarily I would file this under “people with too much time on their hands” but, well, I guess I’m one of those people, because, the fact is, there is something of a precedent for Woody Allen movies starting out much more “experimental” than they finish up.  Woody lore is rife with alternate endings, scrapped productions, replaced cast-members and and even completely re-done movies.  Annie Hall was, they say, originally a three-hour movie about a man’s inability to experience pleasure, and contained a substantial murder mystery.  And was actually shot that way, and became the Academy-Award-winning classic only in the cutting room.  (And the murder-mystery part was later re-made as Manhattan Murder Mystery.)

Also, Woody has always been playful with genre devices whenever his narrative needs a goose.  Just a casual perusal of his titles comes up with deft employment of ghosts, time travel, flying saucers, fairies, voodoo, spiritual displacement, The Gods and magic (especially the “Chinese Box” trick, which comes up at least four times in his work, and which he uses again in the upcoming Scoop [which looks wonderful, by the way]) (And let’s not forget, before Woody was a comedian, he was a magician.)

It makes perfect sense that Anything Goes might feature a character from the future, and it also makes perfect sense that Woody would decide it didn’t work and cut it out of the movie at the last minute, leaving behind, yes, another romantic comedy, although one a far cry from Annie Hall.  And the only people who might know about it are the actors in the scenes cut out and the crew who shot them, and they could easily be sworn to secrecy.  He works with the same crew members for decades sometimes, they wouldn’t say anything (not that anyone would ask), and even an actor as grouchy as Sam Shepard  becomes tight-lipped and stoic when asked why they were cut out of Woody Allen movies.  So who knows?
hit counter html code


6 Responses to “Anything Else revisted, incredibly”
  1. gazblow says:

    For the love of God, replace your projector bulb already!

  2. gazblow says:

    Ideas for Blog Name

    “what does the protagonist want?” has inspired me. Here are some other ideas:

    The Second Act Climax
    The Inciting Incident
    Resolving the Conflict
    The Ticking Clock
    Pick Up The Pace
    Can you make it more like “Finding Nemo”?

    • Re: Ideas for Blog Name

      Might I also suggest

      “Plot Point One”

      or, to take it out of the McKee model and into the world of Hollywood pitchery:

      “Think Meets Ala” (as in “Think Titanic meets Perfect Strangers a la The Simpsons

      This reassessment of Anything Else has me intrigued now. I’m almost willing to believe the theory of the story’s origins. Woody’s always been at his best (or his funniest anyway) when concocting a story around a simple but bizarre, vaguely surreal premise, which is why Deconstructing Harry was the last of his films to get me really jazzed. It was like reading one of his collections of short stories from twenty or thirty years ago. Speaking of which, where the hell is Bruce Jay Friedman?!

      • gazblow says:

        Re: Ideas for Blog Name

        where the hell is Bruce Jay Friedman?!

        Punching up scripts for Larry the Cable Guy.

        • Anonymous says:

          Re: Ideas for Blog Name

          Hey Gazbloooow, I HAVE A QUESTION! Are you the Gary Schwartz with da Super Mario Bros Show or the Gary Shwartz with da TWO DOCUMENTARIES on his IMDB!? Hmmmmmmmmmmm!? HMMMM!?

    • Todd says:

      Re: Ideas for Blog Name

      Rising Tension
      Escalation of Conflict
      Dial it up
      Ramp up the Tension
      What are the Stakes?
      The Motivation is Unclear

      I better stop now. These are all actually really good names.