Manhattan Murder Mystery Movie Review
Woody Allen fans shoot me here, but I've never seen Manhattan. Going from Manhattan Murder Mystery, though, you might wonder if he's playing to the stereotypes. Playing to the stereotypes is my only complain in this bizarre mystery about a next-door neighbor's plans to murder his wife. It takes the easy punches at New Yorkers. But, hey, with a place that has as many people in need of electroshock as New York does, can we blame him?
Manhattan Murder Mystery follows a couple (Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, seen before in Annie Hall) whose kid has left for college and are now living their lives out on the Upper West Side. They go to Rangers games and the theatre and the opera. They hang out with their divorced friends, plan their dreams of resturaunts, and go to work. Oh, yeah, and this couple suspects their next door neighbor of murdering his wife.
Although Allen is trepidatious about confronting a murder at first, the bland urban lives of Allen, his wife, his wife's friend (Alda), and the writer Allen edits (Houston), get caught up in the Manhattan murder mystery offered before them. It is a chance for a bunch of paranoid urbanites to have fun: a rare oppertunity.
Going to Jersey for late-night discussions on how to nab the killer, sneaking into apartments, faking phone conversations. All of this is in the mix for the four bland individuals given a chance to be psychotic little children for a change. It is all a game to these four. There really isn't a concern about morals, only about having fun.
Also thrown into the mix is an interesting arangement. Woody Allen suspects that Diane Keaton is in love with Alan Alda. She, in turn, suspects that good old posterchild for neurotics Woody is in love with Angelica Houston. And, of course, they're trying to set up Houston and Alda at the same time.
Besides Woody Allen's unique touch, Manhattan Murder Mystery is a fairly normal and mainstream film. What bothered most critics, but will never bother me, is Woody Allen's diatribe of neurosis. As always, the compound insanity that he delivers, the one liners that insult himself and New York, and other things that convince you that you may not be the craziest person in the world make the film entertaining.
As far as acting goes, its as solid as you'd expect from such a powerful cast. When it comes to directing, it's what you'd expect from Woody Allen: conservative. He takes his camera and will shoot an entire scene with only one shot.
The script is suprisingly postmodern: it contains wonderful bits of Woody Allen self-reference. For instance, the title Manhattan Murder Mystery alludes to the film Manhattan, and you have the wonderfully brilliant scene in which Diane Keaton decrys wearing a tie with a skirt: the very look that became chic in 1977 with her role in Annie Hall.
Do not expect interesting plot twists. You will not get them. Do not expect high art, you won't get it either. Instead, expect a film that will delight and entertain anyone who hates, or happens to love, New York. What a hoot!