Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen) 1993

I know to many this is their favorite Woody Allen comedy.  To me this seemed like a safe diversion in light of Allen’s marital scandal and ill timed movie about infidelity.  It feels like Allen is falling back on his reliable schtick ala Broadway Danny Rose in order to remind people of why they liked him in the first place.  MMM is kind of a spiritual successor to Annie Hall since it is a reteaming of Allen and Keaton and this was the cut out subplot from Hall about a murder mystery.  Here you have Larry (Allen) and Carol (Keaton) who have kind of settled into the dulldrums of their marriage.  Carol suspects their boring neighbor of murdering his spouse (who seemingly had a heart attack).  When Larry is hesitant to play along with Carol, she asks Ted (Alan Alda) to help her which makes Larry jealous.

Seeing Keaton and Allen together again I am reminded of how much more I prefer the Keaton collaborations.  It is not that I think Mia Farrow was a bad actress.  It is just that I thought Allen did a good job of writing for Farrow, while Keaton had a presence all her own.  The banter back and forth feels effortless and the chemistry still feels genuine.  Like my review of Broadway Danny Rose, I struggle to really stretch out this review because as I said, this is the reliable Allen formula you know and love.  Allen and Keaton bicker back and forth under the thin plot of a murder mystery.  There is not much else to be gleaned from this but as I said, the lead is in top form and haven’t missed a beat since their absence.  I still have no idea how the hell this would have ever fit with Annie Hall as Hall was a more intelligent yet funny look at relationships while MMM is a wacky almost buddy comedy.

The supporting characters are also very fun to watch.  I always appreciate seeing Alda outside of MASH as I think he was an underused actor outside of TV.  While a semi rival to Larry, he is not the over the top smarmy jerk from Crimes and Misdemeanors.  He and Anjelica Huston do a great job of being both potential love interests and fun people along for the ride of this interesting thing going on in their neighborhood.

My feelings still mirror that of Danny Rose.  This is a very funny a light comedy from Woody Allen.  It doesn’t reach the ambition or the enjoyment of his best works, but they are enjoyable on their own.  The cast is having fun and work extremely well together and the dialog is sharp and witty.  It is obvious that if you enjoyed the pairing of Allen and Keaton you should definitely check out Manhattan Murder Mystery.


3 Responses to “Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen) 1993”

  1. I’ve never liked Woody Allen (always found him to be too whiney) but I’ve been reading your blog and have become intrigued; I’m actually considering taking the time to give his movies a shot. Which movie do you recommend as a good starting point for someone new to his works?

    • Well if you are looking for films without Woody as a major actor there are a few films I can recommend. Allen’s recent Midnight in Paris was a pretty unanimous crowd pleaser. It is an easy and light comedic fantasy that is out purely to entertain people which it does. On the serious side you have Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point. Yes Woody is in Crimes but he is a side character not really doing the usual schtick. Match Point is tighter as a murder thriller and may be a little more accessible to first time viewers than Crimes which may be a bit ponderous to people unfamiliar.

      I understand what you mean by Woody being too whiney because at first I hated his character too. The problem is sometimes he can turn his “character” up to 11 and can be grating to people not accustomed to his routine. It is cliche choice but you can’t go wrong trying Annie Hall. Woody is a lot more grounded in his character but it is some of the wittiest dialog. It is a bittersweet look at relationships and gaining perspective and Woody has a nice self deprecating humor about him. Alvy is more of a person instead of a character and you can see the best of Woody Allen. After than you can maybe move on to Hannah and her Sisters or Manhattan.

      • Wow, that’s quite a list you’ve compiled for me to go through! Thanks, Moses! I rather like murder-thrillers so I’ll give Match Point a watch first, I think. I’ll keep your other recommendations in mind next time I’m renting something; probably not all in one go, of course 😉

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