daniel cohen visits the latest Woody Allen film …
Plot: Gil (Owen Wilson) is a successful Hollywood writer on a trip to Paris with his fiancée (Rachael McAdams) and her family. Tired of the Hollywood scene, Gil strives to complete his novel and romanticizes Paris much to the chagrin of his fiancée. Every night after midnight, Gil suddenly finds himself in 1920s Paris as he encounters all his literary idols, making him question his current life.
This might be the first time-travel movie where I couldn’t care less about how the time-travel works. No, this is a Woody Allen comedy, and it’s a damn good one. There’s a lot of weird shit going on, but you’re focused on the characters. They are all really funny and wildly entertaining.
Owen Wilson plays Gil, a self-proclaimed Hollywood hack writer who wants to branch out into novels. He visits Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachael McAdams) and her family who are there on business. Gil is the typical English Major, having a romantic and passionate view on Paris while Inez is more practical and could care less. I’m probably more like Inez and would be like, ‘Whatever dude, it’s just buildings.’ I like the role reversal as you would think the woman would be all about the magic of Paris. But Gil is a likable guy, not annoying and in your face about his dreamlike passion.
The guy in the movie you love to hate is Paul (Michael Sheen), a Professor and former crush of Inez. The guy is a total ass clown. He spouts out obnoxious ‘intellectual’ non-sense. He’s basically like the guy in the Harvard bar from Good Will Hunting. He even tries to correct a tour guide at one point. Gil doesn’t go Will Hunting ‘how about ‘dem apples’ on him because he’s too nice a guy, but he does bag him in subtle ways throughout the movie. But Sheen plays him really well as you’re just steaming whenever he opens his mouth.
The acting in general is great all around. Owen Wilson is the perfect guy for this role. When he first arrives in the 1920s, he’s so confused, but in a calm, ‘I’m not too worried about it’ sort of way, and he goes along with it pretty quickly. This is easily the best thing he’s done since The Royal Tenenbaums back in 2001.
Once he runs into all these famous literary giants like F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), the movie is a lot of fun. Stoll is hysterical as Hemingway. The guy’s intense, and his dialogue is priceless. Alison Pill is great and charismatic as Zelda Fitzgerald.
And then there’s Marion Cotillard as Adriana, who Gil is taken with when he’s in the 1920s. I swear Cotillard has a super power that immediately enraptures you. She is so damn charming.
As the movie veers back and forth between the 1920’s and present time, the present characters are just as good. Rachael McAdams is really funny as Inez. She’s kind of a bitch, but at the same time, she is more grounded in reality and practical then Gil, so I couldn’t completely dislike her. Kurt Fuller also plays her dad who’s got a lot of funny subtle moments.
What’s interesting about the movie is that it meanders along, and you don’t really know where it’s going, much like its protagonist. But when the movie gets to the point it ultimately wants to make, it’s extremely satisfying.
It does drag quite a bit. There’s definitely some moments that could have been edited down. At one point, Gil runs into Salvador Dali played by Adrien Brody. Brody is okay in the role, but I feel like this was one instance where Woody Allen wanted to fit in one more famous figure, and the scene just wasn’t needed.
I enjoyed the 1920s music, but the actual score was really annoying. It constantly reminds you, ‘Hey, this is Paris … isn’t it just magical!’ It’s overbearing.
I had a lot of fun with this movie. It’s funny, smart, wonderfully acted, and makes a great point at the end. I was able to relate to this film as I’m like Gil in some respects. If you want a break from the summer explosions and chaos, this is a nice diversion.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)