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2004 Mini Reviews

Anything Else (2003)

Anything Else
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen, Jason Biggs, Christina Ricci, Danny DeVito
Running Time: 108 Mins

Woody is back with something a little different, a little younger. This time the story is about a young couple, who (take a guess .. ) have a few problems with their relationship. Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs) is an aspiring comic writer who finds a slightly neurotic, but sensible mentor in the form of David Dobel (Woody Allen). Dobel advises him rather poorly on his relationship troubles with the enigmatic Amanda (Christina Ricci).

Shortly after the movie began, I saw Woody Allen's character deliver a familiar type of monologue. This time it seemed more contrived, more over the top, and less interesting than all the times I had heard it before. Subsequent monologues felt the same way, and I suddenly found myself for the first time ever hoping that Woody Allen would not have much screen time in this film. His schtick just seemed tired and I wanted no part of it.

My wish was almost immediately granted, as Jason Biggs took the lead. Then I recognized what he was doing -- playing a Woody Allen character, with all the quick stuttering, vocalized pauses, the pointless meanderings, and the incessant whining. It was horrific and I was suddenly hoping that Woody would reappear. My wish wasn't granted, so I started hating the movie. Cristina Ricci was introduced, delivering Woody Allen dialogue poorly, and I started hating the film even more.

Then something happened. I didn't like Biggs, Ricci, or even Allen in this movie, but somehow I ended up liking the film. The second half was much better, and in typical Allen fashion, I began to relate to the story and became caught up in it. I started caring for Jason Bigg's character, even though I hated the performance. The film ended and I was satisfied.

Allen didn't prove to me that he is a great director and writer; I already knew that. He instead proved that he can overcome obstacles that would sink other films, most notably horrific acting, and still churn out a well-done picture. Now that, my friend, is talent.

Score: 6/10