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Overall Rating
2.76

Awesome: 22.45%
Worth A Look: 8.16%
Average: 2.04%
Pretty Bad57.14%
Total Crap: 10.2%

5 reviews, 19 user ratings


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Anything Else
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by Erik Childress

"Woody Does Teens...Oh, Wait."
2 stars

When a waitress comes over to a young man who has forgotten his wallet on a big date and asks if there will be anything else, he asks for two more Cokes as about eight empty glasses sit on the table. To free associate Fast Times at Ridgemont High with the latest Woody Allen film may be a far stretch for some, but play along for a minute. American Pie has become a new generationís Fast Times and Allen has cast its star Jason Biggs in his latest film. Its title is Anything Else and at that table - Allen is Mark, the audience is Stacy, the glasses are whatís become of Allenís films and weíre all waiting for Damone to come along to bring our money back. Címon, with a film as painfully unfunny as Allenís latest, two hours of Rorschach tests would provide more laughs and originality.

Actually the greatest chuckle imaginable with this film would be going to opening night and seeing the young crowdís reaction that they had been duped into seeing a Woody Allen film without their knowledge. The collective groan that will be heard the minute Allen makes his first appearance will be louder than those critics who had to fake how much they hated Gigli.

The ads donít even acknowledge Allenís presence with the film, instead focusing on a wacky romance with its young stars, Biggs and Christina Ricci. Yes, the film is about their relationship but Allen is not interested in associating them with the core audience who come out for generic teen sex comedies. They like Cole Porter and Billie Holiday, go to Diana Krall concerts and act like the neurotic adults that usually populate Allenís prose. Which is all fine and good since Iím all for upping the intelligencia quotient amongst those worshipping Legally Blonde 2 and Uptown Girls except the film is devoid of wit and presents its situations in the same hackneyed fashion that you would expect from an amateur, not an old pro.

Biggs plays comedy writer, Jerry Falk, whose name continually comes close to Greg Focker country. Unlike the stereotypical male, Jerry has OVERcommitment problems. He just canít say no and canít break up with anyone. Not the low-rent Jerry Maguire-like agent (Danny DeVito) who seems to do his job while weíre told heís underperforming; not the shrink who never opens his mouth to help him; and not Amanda (Ricci) whose early compatibility has given way to shrewish contempt.

Jerry never shows regret for the woman he cheats on (Kadee Strickland) after meeting Amanda, who was dating his friend (Jimmy Fallon, completely wasted) at the time. Now, (as just punishment, I suppose) Jerry has to whine to the fourth wall and his mentor, David Dobel (Allen) about how she wonít let him touch her anymore. Dobel then dishes out lame jokes, gives out the same advice (ďleave everyoneĒ) and engages us in discussion of fantasy threesome masturbation. Actually, who did I say is being punished again?

Biggs and Ricci are doing their best to play in the Woody world of overanxious talkers, putting their faith in the words of a writer whom actors still somehow look up to. However, nothing they have to say or act out is funny leaving them to stumble about with eccentricities that just leave them as unrealistic nebbishes who in reality would be telling the other to ďgo to hellĒ with the force of a cannonball shot out of a chili expert.

How long would you stay with a girl (admittedly, a rather sexy one with the head of a Blythe doll) whom youíre not married to, has no job, smokes against your tastes, cuts you short in the sex department at every opportunity, and then invites her even crazier mother to live with you? Poor Stockard Channing could have had the Dianne Wiest role of the year here as Paula, but even she is shortchanged by not being crazy ENOUGH! Itís a performance alright, but imagine the possibilities of an unemployed, live-in mother with grandeurs of lounge singing who dates a half-her-age horse whisperer who likes to bring cocaine into strangerís homes. Imagine all you want, because itís still funnier in print than it is in the movie.

Itís impossible to describe how off the comic timing is in a scene that involves Jerry making his case (on Dobelís say-so) for keeping a rifle in a house (not a Gub, I mean Gun, but a rifle!), Amandaís protests against it, DeVito calling Jerry to split-screen the scoped frame (which Allen hasnít used, I believe, since Manhattan) and Paula trying to get Dobel to push a piano. Itís a screwball scene in the middle of a relationship comedy with more flashbacks than Dennis Hopper on the set of Apocalypse Now. As a part-time musician, Allen should be all too aware of the concept of rhythm as a full-time filmmaker.

The best thing to say about Allenís 2003 now titled fall project is that it isnít quite as bad as The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. This film has, at least, one big laugh when an older couple walk out of a movie theater and wonder ďwhy they couldnít leave the house after the dinner party.Ē One canít make another understand why that is funny and certainly no one showing up for a Jason Biggs comedy will even know itís a joke. And frankly, Iím not the one indulging in condescention when Allen only sat through a clip of American Pie to cast Biggs. Perhaps someone can buy him a 3-pack of DVDs later this year and he can see firsthand that thereís more wit, heart and intelligence in that trilogy then the last three films (which includes ďHollywood EndingĒ) he has made. If life is truly like ďanything elseĒ as a wise cab driver says in the movie, then surely there has to be more to life than sitting through another disappointing Woody Allen vehicle.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8162&reviewer=198
originally posted: 09/19/03 15:09:54
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User Comments

7/20/13 PAUL SHORTT MORBID AND DULL 2 stars
6/03/05 John Aster Habig funny but with mountains of other Woody films it is hard to compare 4 stars
5/28/05 Gary Some good one-liners but ultimately left me very unsatisfied 2 stars
4/18/05 Abbath Too meandering for its own good. Never settles. 3 stars
3/17/05 Chin Mu Still the Woody style, small humor stewing its heat, and give you a lesson in the end. 5 stars
2/07/05 Graham Cooper One of Woody's better recent efforts. Nice study of human relationships. Ricci is great! 4 stars
5/30/04 Monster W. Kung A rehash of Annie Hall, except crappy. 2 stars
4/20/04 Charles Tatum The cast is in over their heads, stock characters, Allen miscasts himself! 2 stars
2/15/04 Jingo P. Remember when Woody Allen was TALENTED?! 1 stars
1/21/04 rocky@volcanomail.com Does anyone know 20-somethings like these characters? If so, do us a favor and kill them. 1 stars
12/04/03 Andrew Callaway Why god? Why? Why are you doing this to me? 1 stars
10/24/03 Jason King Funny. 4 stars
10/02/03 john i liked it 4 stars
9/30/03 Michael A true winner after some of his recent letdowns. Has an insightful message if you look 5 stars
9/24/03 nr great 5 stars
9/22/03 The F-Bomb snuck in.walked out.nuff said.at least i didnt pay for this shit! 1 stars
9/21/03 Gary Barker bad acting, unsympathetic characters 1 stars
9/21/03 Brian Maher Best movie on the screen in YEARS!!! This one's a winner! 5 stars
9/19/03 andrey danilchenko this movie was hilarious. The jokes were funny and owrked, and the acting was outstanding, 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Sep-2003 (R)
  DVD: 06-Jul-2004

UK
  30-Jul-2004

Australia
  19-Nov-2003


Directed by
  Woody Allen

Written by
  Woody Allen

Cast
  Jason Biggs
  Christina Ricci
  Woody Allen
  Stockard Channing
  Jimmy Fallon
  Danny DeVito



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