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by Anhoni Patel on Aug 20, 2004
I'm sitting here at my desk trying to think of a way to intro my film review for Woody Allen's new movie Anything Else and I can't think of a word to write. Which I believe says something integral about the film and not my own writing abilities. Usually it takes me about two seconds to whip out a snappy line or two. But now I'm just stuck. What do I say? -Christina Ricci does a good job of creating a character that you hate? Allen anxiously whines as per usual? It's interesting that the guy from American Pie finally decided to do a "serious" movie? That's no way to intro a film review. Oh well.
What's done is done. Written and directed by Woody Allen, Anything Else tells the story of a young comedy writer, Jerry Falk (Jason "I screwed a pie for money" Biggs), traipsing through one unhealthy, co-dependent relationship after another as only a serial monogamist can. Jerry's character can be encapsulated in one word: doormat. And who loves doormats more than vicious, self-absorbed and parasitical women? In comes the pill-popping, chain-smoking and name-dropping Amanda (Christina Ricci). The two engage in a horror of a relationship whose main dynamics consist of Falk going out of his way to please his girlfriend while she does everything in her power to withhold sex.
During this whole ordeal, Jerry's ad hoc mentor David Dobel (Woody Allen), a public school teacher who spouts conspiracy theories and big vocabulary words all while mysteriously (because, as everyone knows, a NYC public school teacher would never be able to afford it) driving a vintage red Porsche, lectures him about dumping his "mercurial" girlfriend, getting rid of his uninterested shrink and dropping his ineffectual agent Harvey (Danny DeVito).
All the characters in Anything Else are so severely flawed that towards the end of the film it feels like you're sitting through the never-ending Thanksgiving dinner of a massively dysfunctional and co-dependent family. Pass the peas please.
Nonetheless, it's Allen's film and, along with the continual kvetching, there's humor. In a scene during which Jerry and Amanda have their first real conversation, amidst quotes from Millay and comments about the vocal talents of Diana Krall, Amanda spouts things like, "The ways monkeys move are just so sensual!" In another standout scene, after Jerry reveals something particularly nasty that Amanda has done to him, Dobel quips that, 'The Pentagon should use her hormones for chemical warfare!"
Jerry's heavy-handed narration, particularly in the beginning, seems too gimmicky and throws you off balance; you just want the character to shut up and let the story tell itself. However, as the film progresses this becomes less irritating. Danny DeVito's role as Jerry's agent culminates to be the best in the film; his performance turns out the best scene in the entire movie. DeVito's performance along with Stockard Channing's small role as Amanda's mom might just be this movie's saving grace.
If you love Woody Allen's work you'll probably see this film regardless of this review. But be aware- this is not his best film. Not by far.
The Bottom Line: Save your money and watch it next year when it comes on HBO.
1 hour 48 minutes
by Anhoni Patel on Aug 20, 2004