My parents were right. I should have watched this movie before our vacation to Paris. But watching it on the plane home is almost the same. Not really. Anyway, I’ll add my redundant comment to the mix now and say that Woody Allen made a decent movie again! Bravo!
As much as I hate to say it, the key factor here was Owen Wilson. The dude is kind of annoying, and he can really only play one role, but he plays it well. Bumbling romantic. But Woody Allen’s movies take that role and twist it into something incredibly deep and charming, and so Wilson got a sweet deal out of being the star of this movie. He earned himself a bit more respect for, you know, working with Woody Allen, and he got a higher notch on his bedpost of a career. (Okay, that last statement wasn’t entirely fair or true, but I just really wanted to type it.)
Seriously though! He did a great job! He embodied the Woody Allen insecure prototype without actually being Woody Allen! He talked about Prufrock being his mantra, and he and his fiancee having so much in common, like enjoying pita bread, except they call it naan in India. Stuff like that can only be said in the Woody Allen voice. But if Woody Allen was still casting himself in his movies, it would be re-god-damn-diculous. He’s like 200 years old, and he is not allowed to pursue hot girls anymore. Wilson is a believable substitute. I was also impressed by the fact that Wilson and Rachel McAdams played up their lack of chemistry so believably, considering how cute they were together in Wedding Crashers. Subtle acting skills. Professional! Then again, who wouldn’t pick Marion Cotilliard’s sexy French muse over McAdam’s whiny American fiancee?
Of course, the real star of this movie is Paris, both modern-day and Golden Age era. It really is a beautiful, magical city, and Woody Allen romanticizes it just right. He shows it in “less-flattering” lights, i.e. in the rain, which is arguably more flattering, he shows it full of tourists, he shows it at night, he shows it smoky, and through all of these iterations, it still glows. I only have one small sliver of beef with the movie, and it’s not even real beef. It’s like Woody Allen beef, very wishy-washy. The dream sequences were… blunt. I think it’s because I’m used to terrible special effects and soft lighting and Wayne’s World, but it felt odd that there was no transition into Gil Pender’s fantasies about the 20s. All of a sudden, the car just showed up in the street, containing figures of the past, and he hopped in. There really was no explanation, and the PI that his fiancee’s dad hired just “disappeared” one day when he followed Pender. Loose threads, Woody. But maybe I shouldn’t be so critical. (Here comes the wishy-washy part.) I suppose it would have been a waste of precious movie time to explain all of that. Sometimes, you just have to believe. Or whatever.
Extra bonus points awarded to all the celeb cameos as other celebs. Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein unleashed some wicked one-liners, and I’m not just talking jokes. Her dialogue was filled with legitimate writing advice. Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway was hysterical, and nearly reminded me of a more forceful Jon Hamm. And Adrien Brody as “DALI!!!!!!” is simply better seen than described. I love him.
Maybe I’ll start watching Woody Allen movies again.