Shot in black and white and filled with about 30 big-name stars, Celebrity is a welcome return to old-school Allen, his first really good film since 1994's Bullets Over Broadway.
It's about time. Without the stupid camera tricks/dream sequences (Deconstructing Harry), singing cast members (Everyone Says I Love You), and Greek choruses (Mighty Aphrodite), it's easy to rediscover everyone - and myself - likes Woody so much.
Here's a bright, witty, funny, and topical story that could happen to anyone (unlike the aforementioned pictures). While Allen is noticeably absent from the cast, Kenneth Branagh does a surprisingly authentic imitation as a reporter assigned to the celebrity beat for a travel magazine. Branagh quickly finds himself caught up in the mystique and romanticism of the celebrity lifestyle and does his best to worm his way in. Meanwhile, his frumpy, schoolteacher wife (Judy Davis) is cast along the wayside.
That neither of them ends up getting what they bargained for is a given, but how Allen pulls it off is sheer mastery. In some ways this is an updating of both Manhattan and Crimes and Misdemeanors, and its cautionary message about what's wrong with society is curiously appropriate for a millennium audience.
Still, trademark Allen problems like questionable editing and jerky camerawork make this film a bit less than perfect. The cinematic layout of the scenes is not up to Allen's usual perfectionism, either. Worst of all, many jokes fall flat, and others just miss on their timing.
No matter, because on the whole, Celebrityis quite funny and is simply an amazing send-up of the stars it frames.
Of course, you have to wonder if Leo got the joke.
Hail to the king, baby.
Run time: 113 mins
In Theaters: Friday 20th November 1998
Distributed by: Miramax Films
Production compaines: Sweetland Films, Magnolia Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 23
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Woody Allen
Producer: Jean Doumanian
Screenwriter: Woody Allen
Starring: Kenneth Branagh as Lee Simon, Judy Davis as Robin Simon, Joe Mantegna as Tony Gardella, Leonardo DiCaprio as Brandon, Charlize Theron as Supermodel, Winona Ryder as Nola, Melanie Griffith as Nicole Oliver, Judy Davis as Robin Simon, Famke Janssen as Bonnie, Bebe Neuwirth as Nina - the Hooker, Patti D'Arbanville as Iris, Carmen Dell'Orefice as Pinky Virdon, Tony Sirico as Lou DeMarco, Kenneth Edelson as Rabbi Kaufman, Frank Pellegrino as Frankie, Hank Azaria as David, Allison Janney as Evelyn Isaacs, Douglas McGrath as Bill Gaines, Adrian Grenier as Darrow Entourage, Sam Rockwell as Darrow Entourage, Michael Lerner as Dr. Lupus, Dylan Baker as Catholic Retreat Priest, J.K. Simmons as Souvenir Hawker, Allison Janney as Evelyn Isaacs, Jeffrey Wright as Greg, Gretchen Mol as Vicky
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