Eye For Film >> Movies >> Anything Else (2003) Film Review
Reviewed by: David Haviland
Anything Else is Woody Allen's best film since 1994's Bullets Over Broadway and marks a welcome return to form after a string of disappointments.
One of the reasons it works is the casting of American Pie's Jason Biggs as the romantic lead. It's not that Biggs gives a great performance - he doesn't - but, at least, we're spared the love scenes between Allen and some gorgeous actress that were becoming increasingly ludicrous, not to say creepy, in some of his recent films.
Biggs plays Jerry, a thoughtful Jewish comedy writer having trouble with his sex kitten girlfriend Amanda. That she is played by Christina Ricci is her one compelling asset, as, in all other respects, Amanda is a self-centred, hysterical nightmare.
If comedy comes from pain, then Jerry's plight is funny. Amanda stands him up, spends his money and torments him by withholding sex for months on end, all the while wandering around in her underwear looking, well, like Christina Ricci. He asks if she still loves him and she snaps back, "God! Just because I pull away when you touch me?"
Jerry has other problems, too. He's stuck with Danny DeVito as an agent, who charges 25 per cent, despite never finding him any decent work. Amanda's mother (Stockard Channing) moves in and her cabaret rehearsals disrupt his writing. His only solace is a fellow writer, played by Allen himself, whose advice is to dump everyone and buy a gun.
Anything Else is a breezy comedy, full of funny scenes and classic Allen one-liners. The cast is predictably excellent, with Channing and Ricci making the most of tyrannical roles that look like an actress's dream. The film is unusually conventional for Allen, with a sunny jazz score, beautifully shot by longtime collaborator Santo Loquasto.
What's interesting is the subtle shift that has taken place, with Allen moving from the central role. Jerry seems to be a Woody Allen surrogate in many respects, but there's a crucial difference. Allen usually plays a neurotic, passive/aggressive wimp, who somehow gets his way. Jerry, on the other hand, is browbeaten and easily manipulated and yet, surprisingly, all the more appealing for that.Reviewed on: 30 Jul 2004