Retro Film Review: Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

in #aaa29 days ago


Everyone familiar with the Woody Allen films can't fail to notice that film maker's obsession with 1930s popular music. Since Allen makes films very often and since he always tries to make them different from each other, it is hardly surprising that one of those films would feature 1930s music in more explicit form than mere soundtrack. In 1996 Allen found the way to express his admiration for 1930s popular songwriters by taking their work as dance and song numbers in his musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You.

Like many of Woody Allen's plots, this one is set among New York liberal intellectuals. The story is narrated by DJ (played by Natasha Lyonne), daughter of neurotic writer Joe (played by Woody Allen) and his socially conscious ex-wife Steffi (played by Goldie Hawn). Steffi's new husband, attorney Bob (played by Alan Alda) has problems of his own - his son Scott (played by Lukas Haas) has adopted conservative ideology while daughter Skylar (played by Drew Barrymore) breaks up engagement with fine but naive Holden (played by Edward Norton) in order to pursue romance with recently released convict Charles (played by Tim Roth). In the meantime, DJ, concerned for her father's happiness, uses the information gained from wiretapping psychoanalyst's office in order to set up Joe with art historian Von (played by Julia Roberts).

In the age when MTV all but buried musicals, at least in its motion pictures form, it was quite noble for Woody Allen to try to resurrect this genre. It was even finer to witness his confidence not only in himself but in the actors - few of them being professional singers or even able to sing. Unfortunately, being brave and being successful are two things. Song-and-dance numbers take too much time out of movie, thus limiting Allen's ability to create interesting plots, dialogues and characters in between. The humour in the film suffers as a result - explanation for Scott's conservatism looks more like cheap propaganda than product of someone's wit. Furthermore, while some of the actors really try and while most of the songs don't require much ability, it is more than evident that some of their efforts belong to karaoke bar rather than musical comedy. Some of the song-and-dance numbers look too staged to be properly appreciated by anyone except 1930s musical aficionados. There are couple of clever lines, the acting is good, but the general impression is of a film visibly below Woody Allen's standards. Everyone Says I Love You is a noble failure, but failure nevertheless.

RATING: 4/10 (+)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on January 22nd 2004)

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