Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To Rome with Love - DVD Review

Starring Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Alessandra Mastronardi, Alessandro Tiberi, Allison Pill, Ornella Muti and Flavio Parenti. Directed by Woody Allen.


This is middle-of-the-road hit-and-miss Woody Allen.  I mean, I'm still a big fan.  Seeing that white Windsor font against the black screen while a really old song plays is the best kind of introductory cinematic comfort food.

This is an ensemble piece where we have four stories going on that don't bother to link to each other, save for that they all take place in Rome.  We meet a newlywed Italian couple where the uptight husband (Alessandro Tiberi) is the young-Woody stand-in, nervous and insecure.  We meet an architect (Jesse Eisenberg) who runs into an old pro (Alec Baldwin) who may just be an older version of himself.  We meet two nervous parents (Woody Allen, Judy Davis) flying to Italy to meet their daughter's Italian fiance. We also meet Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni), an office drone who is suddenly famous and stalked by paparazzi for no discernible reason.

The success of the movie depends on how successful each storyline works in its own right and how they come together as a whole.  Well, they don't come together as a whole, so how are the parts?

The Benigni thread worked best for me.  It had the whimsical what-if fairy dust of Purple Rose of Cairo or Deconstructing Harry.  I enjoyed Penelope Cruz popping into the newlywed thread as a high-priced call-girl, even if it never lived up to its premise.  The Woody Allen thread had one good gag.  The Eisenberg/Baldwin thread was a waste. I blame some of it on the miscasting of Ellen Page, but the older Baldwin, seeing the trainwreck coming, doesn't really try to stop it.

So it's not a nailgun to the skull like Whatever Works or Curse of the Jade Scorpion, but there are a good twelve Woody movies I'd recommend over this one.

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