Anything Else is the latest film
from Woody Allen, who writes, directs, and co-stars in the film.
Woody Allen is hit or miss for most people. Ask ten people the
best Woody Allen films of all time, and you're likely to get ten
different answers. Some people think his worst film is his best
film, and vice versa. And, of course, there are even some people
who think he's never done anything worth watching, but those people are
just generally grumpy and shouldn't be listened to.
It's been four years since the Masked Reviewer has seen a Woody Allen
film that he enjoyed, namely Sweet Lowdown. The Masked
Reviewer is genuinely a fan of the earlier Woody Allen films, pre-Annie
Hall. That's not to say that he hasn't had great moments in
just about every film, but certainly the tone of his earlier movies was
The film immediately before Anything Else was
Hollywood Ending. That one came and went. Before that
was Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Small Time Crooks.
There are some people who believe his last three films were some of
his best, and others who believe they're some of his worst. Try to
figure out which group you fall into, and then you'll have a better idea
of what you'll think about Anything Else.
It would be very hard for anyone to argue that this is his finest
film. It would also be difficult to say that this is the worst
film he's ever done. It's somewhere in the middle. If you
liked his last few films, you're likely to enjoy Anything Else.
If you thought his last few films were awful, you might want to pass on
Anything Else stars Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci.
It's a relationship movie. There's a lot of analysis of their
relationship, several weird plot twists, and some funny set-ups, but all
in all the film is very uneven and not terribly funny. There are a
few laughs, but no memorable ones.
The story isn't interesting enough to keep people glued to their
seats. The laughs are spaced too far apart. That's not to
say that there aren't a lot of jokes in the film, but there are several
jokes that fall flat. Of the rest, they're hit or miss. You
can hear little pockets of laughter in different parts of the theater,
but only a handful of jokes seem to work for everyone. And...even
then, there are people who will sit through this film, staring at the
screen, wondering what everyone else is laughing about.
If you're not a fan of Woody Allen, this isn't a good choice to
introduce yourself to his work. If you already know you don't care
for his films, your mind is unlikely to be changed by this film.
So much for the general discussion of Woody Allen 101. Here are
some specific issues with the film.
Jason Biggs (American Pie) plays a character that is based on
Woody Allen. Woody Allen is also in the film, also playing a
character based on Woody Allen. While Biggs' performance is fine,
he winds up doing a rather stale imitation of Woody Allen. This
has happened in other films, and the Masked Reviewer hasn't seen it work
well yet. Presumably, Woody Allen realizes he can't play the young
male love interest at his age, so he has someone else "do him" (Soon-Yi,
Anything else? Yes! Biggs often addresses the camera
directly in this film, sort of as an aside. It's kind of annoying.
Sometimes that device works fine, but in this film it only further
served to remind the audience that no flow to the story ever developed.
Strangely, nothing critical was ever said in these asides to the camera.
Anything else? You bet. Christina Ricci is the love
interest in the film. Now, fans of Christina Ricci's nipples might
find a couple of things to get excited by in this film. She
doesn't appear nude, but does where some poke-through clothing that
makes it very hard to concentrate on anything else. Let's just say
there was undoubtedly more than one Woody on that set.
Anything else? Sure. Danny DeVito, Stockard Channing, and
Jimmy Fallon also appear in the film and give fine performances (well,
Jimmy Fallon had little more than two lines).
Anything Else (which will undoubtedly be panned by some critics
as what you'll wish you'd seen instead) will leave many viewers with a
strangely unfulfilled sensation. Acting was fine, more or less.
The story wasn't good or bad. The jokes...you forget the bad ones,
and you can't remember the good ones. It's all rather..."eh".
Diehard fans of Woody Allen will enjoy the film. If you like
recent Woody Allen (Hollywood Ending, Curse of the Jade Scorpion)
you'll probably enjoy this. If you're expecting something along
the lines of Bananas, Take the Money and Run, or Sleeper...you're
out of luck. It's somewhat reminiscent of Manhattan.
Big fans of Christina Ricci might enjoy her offbeat performance in this,
though she's not given a terribly likeable character. Faithful
fans of Jason Biggs will be disappointed by the lack of pies for him to
have sex with.
Take your ticket money and run. You'd be bananas to see this
sleeper. Everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid
to ask isn't answered in this film. And...um...the purple roses in
If you've never seen What's Up, Tiger Lilly? which is Woody
Allen's first film (a Japanese spy movie he bought and dubbed over), it
is now available on DVD. It's funny.
Expectation from the Title: When Bob Moscowitz goes to the
store, his wife calls him to remind him to also get bread. Soon,
she calls again to remind him to get tuna. Before long, she has
called three, four, five more times, remembering everything from tuna
fish to toilet bowl cleaner. But on the sixth call, Bob Moscowitz
speaks two words that will forever change his destiny.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
New York is very pretty in the autumn.
The Pros: A few good jokes, a couple of interesting scenarios.
The Cons: Not enough good jokes or interesting scenarios.