Anything Else


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" of Christina Ricci's nipples might find a couple of things to get excited by in this film...there was undoubtedly more than one Woody on that set."


Anything Else
The Masked Reviewer

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 much more...wacky. 

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 this one.

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, anyone?). 

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 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'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. purple roses in Cairo...aren't...blooming.  Whatever.

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. Uneven, slow.

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