Anything Else

"Good"

Anything Else Review


You can judge the current state of Woody Allen in the cinematic world by the fact that the advertising for his newest film, Anything Else, doesn't even mention his name. For all intents and purposes, it looks like a wee little romantic comedy starring Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci, the kind of thing that comes and goes from the multiplex in about three weeks and lives forever after on a Blockbuster shelf with Maid in Manhattan and Two Weeks Notice. On the poster, Ricci's face is in a big heart and the title is written in pink. It's a sneaky piece of subterfuge that might just allow Allen to do something he hasn't been able to for quite some time: connect with a younger audience.

The big schlemiel at the heart of the movie is actually not Allen, it's Biggs, who plays Jerry Falk, a young comedy writer with a chronic inability to say no to anybody: not his useless shrink or his clinging, laughable manager (Danny Devito), and especially not his neurotic (on a good day) girlfriend, Amanda (Ricci). Falk's best friend is another comedy writer, David Dobel (Allen), who has all the usual Allen characteristics, but seems to have been taking steroids for his paranoia and misanthropy.

Falk flutters about in the middle of the picture, juggling the competing demands of all the people in his life whom he's trying to keep happy, and failing miserably when it comes to Amanda. A chain-smoking, binge-eating, pill-popping, struggling actress, Amanda is always late, eats everything in the house, is sexually attracted by most men except Falk, and asks her drunk mother (Stockard Channing) to move into their cramped one bedroom. All in all, she's a fidgety nervebomb that would send most men fleeing at top speed, screaming.

At first, their relationship is perilously unentertaining and simply wretched to behold. Also starting off sketchy is the film's framing device: Falk's long walks and talks in Central Park with his erstwhile mentor Dobel, who expounds on everything from the wisdom of Henny Youngman to masturbation to the existential purposelessness of life and the Holocaust. These bits are generally not as meaningful as they should be, and to drive a dull point home even harder, Falk describes them in painfully obvious monologues to the audience. Allen has always had a light touch with humor, but with few exceptions (Crimes and Misdemeanors, maybe) his approach to more serious subject matter is ham-fisted at best.

Fortunately, Allen refuses to take himself too seriously (a scene in which Dobel attacks a car with a tire iron is hilarious in its improbability, as is another where he tries to move a piano), and for the most part he hands over the film to his young leads, who quickly lead the film into a steady groove. Biggs takes some getting used to, but Ricci holds the screen every second she's on it and doesn't waste a single word. Ricci's convincingly played the conniving witch before (The Opposite of Sex), but she's so well-suited to play Amanda that it's just plain creepy. No matter how horribly Amanda treats Falk, there's a pleading in Ricci's wide, anime eyes, and the promise of love in her crooked smile, that keeps the character from seeming as hateful as she really is. (As Dobel tells Falk: "The Pentagon should use her hormones for chemical warfare," and Dobel should know, as he's the other consummate liar and neurotic in Falk's life.)

Anything Else is a surprisingly relaxed film, and it's all the better for it. Channing and DeVito ably fill their supporting roles, which they are actually given the time to do since for once Allen isn't cramming the screen with marquee stars doing some pedigree slumming (unless Jimmy Fallon showing up for a couple minutes to play Amanda's previous boyfriend counts).

Will there be a better romantic comedy this year? Probably, but there won't be one that takes so many chances and is so enjoyably weird.

Up next: The scene with Biggs and a knish.



Anything Else

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th September 2003

Box Office USA: $3.1M

Distributed by: DreamWorks SKG

Production compaines: Canal+, DreamWorks SKG, Granada Film Productions, Perdido Prod.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 53 Rotten: 79

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Charles H. Joffe,

Starring: as Jerry Falk, as Amanda Chase, as David Dobel, as Harvey Wexler, as Bob, as Manager, as Paula Chase

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.