Mighty Aphrodite (Woody Allen) 1995

Mighty Aphrodite is about Lenny (Woody Allen) and Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter) who adopt a child.  The child turns out to be a genius and Lenny decides to track down the mother believing that she too, must be brilliant.  Turns out the woman Linda (Mira Sorvino) is a prostitute and a complete moron.

This is seen as a good time in Woody Allen’s career.  I suppose with this and my Bullets review I am entering controversial territory.  I find these movies to be very lazy for Allen.  Allen has always been a joke writer and he has told how he has a drawer full of jokes, ideas, and concepts.  This is purely speculation and I have next to nothing to back it up.  It just feels like after his debacle involving Mia Farrow and his underage stepdaughter, Allen is perfectly fine by running on cruise control.  Whereas before he was always venturing into new territory and breaking new ground, now he says “fuck it“ and is content playing it safe with his drawer ideas.  What if a mobster became a playwright?  Fuck it, I can stretch that out to 90 minutes and ride things out another year. A Greek tragedy set to banal upper class New Yorkers petty issues?  Fuck it, I don’t feel like doing anything meaningful.

Keep in mind none of this means this is bad.  Mighty Aphrodite works and is charming and makes you chuckle occasionally   But this reminds me of when I was wrapping up college and a term which I believe is ‘senoritis‘.  I would wait until the last minute to do a book report or a paper and then do the absolute bare minimum to get by because screw it, I’m graduating anyway.  I feel like my English teacher handing my paper back going “You can do better“.

I know that Woody knows he can make an entire movie based on his Woody persona which he has done with Aphrodite.  All Mighty Aphrodite is is Mira Sorvino talking lewdly about sex and being a prostitute and Woody getting flustered and nervous.  I can picture the whole movie in my head without even seeing it.  I can picture Sorvino mentioning about how a client likes that she snowballs him and Allen looks nervous and is gesturing wildly with his hands and he stutters something about how he doesn’t want to know how to use Hostess cakes in those ways.  The problem is it doesn’t feel like effort is put into it.  It feels like Allen is on autopilot.  One of Allen’s neurotic tendencies is that he has to be working all the time. His one a year output is not so much that he has all these great movie concepts that are screaming to get out but more about he has nothing better to do with his time off.  It kind of reminds me of my father who will go insane by retirement because he has no other hobbies.  This is Allen on autopilot because he can’t think of anything better to do with his time now that the Knicks aren’t playing.

As I said before there is nothing bad about Aphrodite and I have no problems with people who find it funny.  But for me, I appreciate someone a lot more when he/she  puts it all on the line and fails spectacularly rather than someone shooting for mediocre and achieving it.  This is a film which I have no intention of ever revisiting because there is nothing special that stands out.  I got everything I ever needed out of one viewing and there is no reason to ever go back to it.  Blah.


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