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The Couch Potato Report
This week in The Couch Potato Report When Good Filmmakers Go Bad.
Woody Allen and Rob Reiner are two of my favourite filmmakers. Allen gave us the modern day classics ANNIE HALL, MANHATTAN, MIGHTY APHRODITE and many others. Reiner’s resume is equally impressive as his list of classic includes THIS IS SPINAL TAP, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY…, STAND BY ME, A FEW GOOD MEN and MISERY, just to name five. And I don’t have to stop at five, Reiner also gave us THE PRINCESS BRIDE and THE SURE THING.
Either of these two men’s names on a film used to mean that you were guaranteed a great time at the movies.
Used to mean.
Should you choose to rent either ANYTHING ELSE, this week’s new release from Woody Allen, or ALEX & EMMA, the new release from Rob Reiner you’ll understand my point of “used to mean.”
They just don’t seem have “it” anymore.
What do I mean by “it”? Well, let me give you this scene from the movie TRAINSPOTTING:
“SICK BOY – It’s certainly a phenomenon in all walks of life.
RENTON – What do you mean?
SICK BOY – Well, at one time, you’ve got it, and then you lose it, and it’s gone for ever. All walks of life: George Best, for example, had it and lost it, or David Bowie, or Lou Reed –
RENTON- Some of his solo stuff’s not bad.
SICK BOY – No, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either, is it? And in your heart you kind of know that although it sounds all right, it’s actually just shite.
RENTON – So who else?
SICK BOY – Charlie Nicholas, David Niven, Malcolm McLaren, Elvis Presley. –
RENTON – OK, OK, so what’s the point you’re trying to make?
SICK BOY – All I’m trying to do is help you understand that The Name of the Rose is merely a blip on an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory.
RENTON – What about The Untouchables?
SICK BOY – I don’t rate that at all.
RENTON – Despite the Academy award?
SICK BOY – That means fuck all. The sympathy vote.
RENTON – Right. So we all get old and then we can’t hack it any more. Is that it?
SICK BOY – Yeah.
RENTON – That’s your theory?
SICK BOY – Yeah, Beautifully fucking illustrated.”
Now, I don’t think that either Woody Allen, who just turned 68, or the 56 year old Rob Reiner have necessarily lost their way because they are too old. If they want to keep making films, whatever their age, I say more power to them.
What I am saying is that they have lost the gift that allowed them to be proclaimed filmmakers who have “it.”
Filmmakers who’s name in the credits of a movie was a guarantee that the movie was going to be great.
Neither Allen’s or Reiner’s new films will likely ever be described using the word great. I wouldn’t call either of them even mildly entertaining.
Let’s start with Reiner’s latest – ALEX & EMMA. This so called romantic comedy is so off the mark that it lands in an alternate plane of awfulness.
Luke Wilson from OLD SCHOOL is Alex, a writer and gambling addict who must deliver an entire novel in 30 days in order to pay off some Cuban mafioso.
Kate Hudson from ALMOST FAMOUS is Emma, the stenographer Alex hires in order to produce the book faster.
As Alex dictates to Emma his novel the pair grows closer, as do their characters in the novel. Sure, it sounds interesting, but it is in fact astonishingly dull.
Wilson and Hudson are two great actors who have been in some great films, but in ALEX & EMMA they have zero chemistry. They are fully to blame as the script, co-written by Rob Reiner, is a lifeless work that drags on, and on, and on.
Once I realize a film that I am watching is bad my mind starts to wander and during ALEX AND EMMA I starting wondering how Rob Reiner, the man who made WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… and THE PRINCESS BRIDE could have forgotten how to make a romantic comedy.
Then I thought of that scene in TRAINSPOTTING. He had, “it” and then he lost “it.”
That point was “Beautifully fucking illustrated” by ALEX AND EMMA.
Avoid this film unless you can’t find anything else.
And I mean any other movie. I don’t mean ANYTHING ELSE, the latest film from Woody Allen.
To me, Woody Allen is one of the funniest people, not just a funny filmmaker, but one of the funniest people of the 20th century.
But if you haven’t noticed, we are now in the 21st Century.
ANYTHING ELSE is Woody Allen’s latest film and it stars Allen along with film veterans Danny DeVito and Stockard Channing, along with Jason Biggs of AMERICAN PIE and a grown up Christina Ricci from THE ADDAMS FAMILY films.
Biggs is an aspiring writer falls in love with Ricci, a supposed free spirited woman. Allen is the young writer’s friend. A man who has an opinion on everything. He may be the smartest person on the planet, but he could also be a close relative of Cliff Claven, the mailman from CHEERS.
Who these people are supposed to be is irrelevant. They are self-centered and complaining whiners who aren’t the least bit interesting.
I actually can’t understand why Allen thought an audience would consider these character’s stories entertaining.
Maybe it’s because he’s lost “it.”
Without making the conclusion of this review too predictable, allow me to just suggest that you stay away from this movie, as well as ALEX & EMMA, and check out anything else. Anything else but ANYTHING ELSE, that is.
Should you be curious, ALEX & EMMA and ANYTHING ELSE are now available at your local video store to rent and own.
Let me conclude my diatribe on Woody Allen and Rob Reiner by saying one of my hopes for 2004 is that these two incredible filmmakers find their way again. I hope they get “it” back and I look forward to that day.
S.W.A.T. – Even the cops dial 911! A Special Weapons and Tactics team will provide highly trained hostage negotiators and tactical teams for situations that regular law enforcement officials can’t handle. The team in this film version of the 1970’s TV series must protect an inmate from jailbreakers seeking the $100 million (U.S.) reward. (Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez)
AMERICAN WEDDING – The aforementioned Jason Biggs and some of his pals are back in the reported final installment of the AMERICAN PIE series. This one is less about pie and more about the wedding of Jim and Michelle. (Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Eugene Levy)
THE ORDER – A priest infiltrates a secret sect known as Sin Eaters. I have to admit that I couldn’t be bothered sitting through this film from the maker’s of A KNIGHT’S TALE. (Heath Ledger, Benno Furmann, Shannyn Sossamon)
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you on the couch!