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Anything Else (2003)

Cast: Woody Allen, Woody Allen, Jason Biggs, more...
Director: Woody Allen, Woody Allen
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Rating:
Studio: DreamWorks
Genre: Comedies, Romantic Comedy
Running Time: 109 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Synopsis
A young artist struggling with his career and his muse is getting more than a little aggravation from Cupid in this romantic comedy written and directed by Woody Allen. Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs) is a promising 21-year-old comedy writer living in New York City. While Jerry has talent, he's having a hard time getting his career off the ground, which might have something to do with the fact his agent Harvey (Danny DeVito) is a well-meaning, but ineffectual, blowhard, and his mentor David Dobel (Allen) is an increasingly paranoid eccentric whose twin careers as a teacher and standup comic are both floundering. Poised at the top of Jerry's mountain of anxieties is his relationship with his girlfriend Amanda (Christina Ricci); from the first moment he saw her, Jerry has been in love with her, but Amanda's multiple neuroses, fear of commitment, and frustrating intimacy issues make her all but impossible to be around. Jerry is approaching his breaking point when the small flat he shares with Amanda becomes home to a third roommate -- Amanda's mother Paula (Stockard Channing), who has decided to come to New York to chase her dream of becoming a cabaret singer. Anything Else also features supporting performances from Jimmy Fallon, William Hill, and jazz vocalist Diana Krall. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

"Well, there was something compelling about your apathy." by underdog January 22, 2004 - 4:04 PM PST
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7 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Damning this with faint praise: This is far stronger than most of Woody Allen's other recent films. That it isn't to say that it's up there with his best or consistently compelling, but it boasts a sharp script, and surprisingly for a guy in his mid 60s, a good eye and ear for romantic truths among 20somethings. In fact, the studio releasing this film, Dreamworks, fearful that any mention of Woody Allen would keep its target youthful audience away in droves, marketed the film by pointing to its young stars, Jason Biggs and Cristina Ricci, making no mention of the Woodman. Well, guess what Dreamworks? The audience stayed away in droves, anyway. But it's worth a look on video, particularly for Woody's fans.

Biggs is basically playing a young version of Woody (of course) but nicely gives it his own version of neurotic New Yorker, empathetic, sometimes pathetic, but always real. Ricci's narcisstic actress girlfriend is annoying, but realistic, too -- I swear I dated someone like her once -- and often very funny. And Woody, yes, Woody's in it, and playing one of his darker roles -- but with some choice lines and some classic Woodman moments. Stockard Channing is basically wasted but is a comforting presence nonetheless. The most annoying, or least successful, element of the film is the device of having Biggs address the camera in a sort of diary of his life -- didn't that trend die out sometime after Ferris Bueller? -- and yet, even that starts to work better after awhile once the story finds its rhythm. It features the world's worst psychiatrist, Woody in a gun shop, a cocaine scene to rival Annie Hall's, fun with eating disorders, and a good number of genuinely funny running gags. (And a few not so funny.)

It's a delight to see a romantic comedy featuring younger people that doesn't pander to the audience -- that is full of intelligent dialogue and comedy that is firmly rooted in character instead of in contrivances. Far from a Woody Allen classic, Anything Else is still better than 90% of what is passing for "Romantic comedy" these days. What's sad is many more people will watch Gigli out of morbid curiosity than will watch this film.




GreenCine Member Rating
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(Average 4.96)
95 Votes
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