A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (Woody Allen) 1982
Blah. You know, up till this point the retrospective has been pretty damn good. Sure, there have been some Allen movies I might not have liked as much as the rest like Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Sex. But even that movie was still overall funny and good. This one? Just, blah. I hate these kinds of reviews. I like to be able to point out things I like or dislike. I’ve spent a long time staring at the little blinky line of my word document wondering how the hell I’m going to explain why I don’t care for it but how do you express the sheer ‘meh‘-ness of this film. The movie is partially inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s (at least tonally) Smiles of a Summer Night. That is already a bad start for me since I didn’t really care for Smiles of a Summer Night.
The movie is about three couples going on a weekend trip to a romantic summer house. You have the starchy scientist Leopold (Jose Ferrer) who is soon to be married to Ariel (Mia Farrow). You have inventor Andrew (Woody Allen) who owns the house and is married to Adrian (Mary Steenburgen). And you have Andrew’s tomcat friend Maxwell (Tony Roberts) and his date the ditzy Dulcy (Julie Haggarty). During the weekend, each guy falls for another person’s date and the traditional wacky shenanigans ensue.
This movie doesn’t feel like a Woody Allen movie and instead feels more like an extended sitcom from the 70’s. You have all these “quirky characters“ getting in “mixed up situations“ of trying to woo these women from their respective partners and the “hilarious misunderstandings“ that come of it. I hope that by the excessive use of quotations you can note my sarcasm but if not I will outright say it is. It is all played up with this aire of whimsy and wackiness but to me it felt tired. There is none of the usually fresh Woody Allen banter nor the interesting characters. It is just all stuff like, “Oh! Maxwell thinks he is going on a romantic walk with Ariel and Leopold thinks he is going to be meeting up with Dulcy. Let’s sit back and watch hilarity ensue after a word from our sponsor!“
This movie is plotted a little too much which is why the characters are so weak. Everyone here is a one dimensional stereotype: Leopold is a scientist so he is logical like a Vulcan, Dulcy is an airhead, Maxwell is the tomcat, etc. The movie has all these characters finding true love and going through all this but I don’t really care. I also feel Woody goes too far into the goofy in some areas. I don’t mind a wacky movie, but the tone is rather inconsistent at times I guess is what I am saying. For the most part you have a comedy about characters setting up various romantic trysts, but then you throw in stuff like Andrew inventing a bicycle powered helicopter or flying spirit balls which makes things too bizarre for the rest of the movie.
This movie was made while Zelig’s production had to be put on hold and for me it does feel like a diversion. I’ll admit I wasn’t the best audience for this movie. As I mentioned before, I didn’t like Smiles of a Summer Night. So, if I didn’t like the original, why would I like Woody Allen trying to copy that formula? There are some Woody fans that will say they love this film and hey, more power to em. For me, this was one big ‘meh‘ sammich that I had to take down whole. I didn’t like it, and I didn’t really hate it. It just exists for me. It ran for 88 minutes of my life and then was gone. Blah.
Up next is Zelig.