Anything Else (2003) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 6

directing 6

effects 6

editing 6

writing 7

SW SCORE: 31

3 out of 5 🐙

++

Written and directed by Woody Allen, Anything Else is a story about a neurotic writer with women problems. You say you’ve seen that plot before in an Allen film? You’re right.

Jason Biggs, most well known for intimate relations with an apple pie (his cromulent run on Orange is the New Black being his latest significant turn), plays Jerry Falk, a neurotic New York writer. This role is usually reserved for Allen but it was around this time that Allen started his switch from lead to supporting actor since he is about 200 years old and is too busy with his off screen May-December romance with his former step-daughter to be troubled with implausible May-December romances on screen.

Jerry’s horrific girlfriend, Amanda (played wickedly by Christina Ricci) is a sexy melting pot of every bad girlfriend trait, evil and lack of guilt. In As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson’s character is asked how he writes women so well. He replies “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.” Clearly, this is a trite misogynistic response. But Amanda is so horrible that she actually resembles that remark. 

But don’t be afraid, Allen disciples. Woody is not missing. He plays comedy writer, David Dobel. Dobel is a vocabulary wunderkind who lives in constant fear of a new holocaust. So much so that he has guns placed all over his apartment for self-protection. He serves as Jerry’s mentor and motivator. The plot, as such, revolves around Jerry trying to save his relationship with Amanda, the world’s most monstrous girlfriend. Dobel strives to make him see what a horrible person she is and teach him other life lessons along the way. Almost every nugget of Dobel wisdom could be a movie in and of itself. If you like Woody Allen, you’ll enjoy Dobel.

Unfortunately, Biggs seems like a poor copy of Allen’s tics and neurosis. He doesn’t make them his own. Ricci is dynamite as the Demon Queen Girlfriend. By the end of the movie, you hate her more than your worst enemy. She will cause you physical pain. As far as dialogue, it takes a while to ramp up to Allen’s older standard of frantic, comic energy but it’s always smart. And it’s always witty. That alone is rare and worth the watch.

*As a note, I am not making any comment on the various scandals in Woody Allen’s personal life. I wrote this review and watched this movie and my goal is to write a review for every movie I’ve watched, regardless of the character, confirmed or otherwise, of the creative team. Do with that what you will. 

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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