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Anything Else /

Rated: R

Starring: Woody Allen, Jason Biggs, Stockard Channing, Danny DeVito, Christina Ricci
Directed by: Woody Allen
Produced by: Letty Aronson
Written by: Woody Allen
Distributor: Dreamworks

 

     As time progresses, each movie that Woody Allen makes becomes more similar to his previous effort. Anything Else is a beautifully comedic exception to this. Not only are the direction and writing are improvements on the filmmakerís other recent pictures Hollywood Ending and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, but his performance is also better. Allen is a great comedian, but his acting range is very limited. Usually, his performances offer the same-old fast-talking, New Yorker shtick. His work in Anything Else, is exactly this. But in stead of writing the leading role for himself, he chose to play a supporting characteróa very wise decision.

     This time around, the two main parts are played by the hysterical Christina Ricci and likeable Jason Biggs. The plot, full of innocent sexual jokes and both physical and mental comedy, does have the typical Allen feel, but features more than just a few new twists. Biggs plays Jerry Falk, a twenty-one year-old struggling writer of comedy, stuck in a relationship with a psychotically crazy girl named Amanda (Ricci). Most of the story is told through flashbacks, which show their relationshipís beginning and decline. While these are definitely the highlight of the movie, those that take place in real time, are still very, very funny, mostly because of Allenís character. He plays David Dobel, a part time comedy-writer, as well as a school teacher. He befriends Jerry, and is also used as inspiration for the young manís writing.

     Without a doubt, Ricci highlights the movie, and delivers one of the best performances of the year. In each scene sheís in, Ricci sucks up all of our attention; we laugh at every punch-line. Her character, Amanda, is always helpless, without being needy of the audienceís sympathy. Sheís the type of woman thatís hilariously hysterical, but is never thought of as comedic. Allen, who has a gift for writing swift and breezy dialogue is able to play with this, and in partnership with Ricci, he crafts one of the best characters of the year. And even so, she stands out over him. While Anything Else is clearly a team effort, the lead actress is the one to thank for its success.

     Anything Else isnít going to make Allen successful again, nor will it gross more than ten million dollars at the box office, in total. It is, however, a good movie that you should see. And if that alone isnít worth a positive recommendation, I donít know what is. Biggs is good, Ricci is fantastic, the script is superb, and the writing is ingenious; who could ask for more? As the rest of this year passes, I know that my respect for Anything Else will greaten. Comedies are sometimes the hardest films to makeóthe material must be entertaining, the context that each joke is in must be perfect, and the performances must be portrayed with a certain amount of mastery. This movie does all of the above, proficiently. The fact, alone, that itís playing on over one-thousand screens, domestically, is a blessing in itself.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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