She's Funny That Way


Reviewed by: Robert Munro

She's Funny That Way
"The cast are terrific, and the comic set pieces are handled with precision and impeccable timing, even if not all of the jokes hit home."

As ever, Peter Bogdanovich wears his cinephilia on his sleeve, although there are times in his enjoyable screwball farce She's Funny That Way when you wish he'd put a jacket on. The film borrows liberally and openly from the sort of knockabout farce that Ernest Lubitsch or Howard Hawks once made. Indeed, one of the running jokes from the film is ripped straight from one of Lubitsch's final films, Cluny Brown.

The line is stolen by director Arnold Albertson, played by Owen Wilson, who sees himself as a knight in shining armour, rescuing the escorts he frequents with tales of squirrels and nuts, and a suitcase stuffed with thirty thousand bucks, so they can start a new career. One such lucky lady is aspiring actress Isabella Patterson, or Glow to give her her working name, played with terrific Brooklyn bravado by Imogen Poots. Of course, Isabella subsequently turns up at an audition for Albertson's new play, which also stars his wife Delta (Kathryn Hahn) and ageing British lothario Seth (Rhys Ifans), who has a thing for Delta, and spied Isabella sneaking out of Arnold's room the night previous.

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Confused? Well, yes, but the film has great fun with this gleefully contrived set-up, of which the description above is only half. Playwright Josh (Will Forte) and his girlfriend Jane (Jennifer Aniston), who is also Isabella's therapist - and a fantastically indiscreet one at that - are tangled up in events alongside Josh's father, who works as a hopelessly conspicuous Private Detective hired by one of Isabella's obsessed ex-punters, Judge Pendergast who, of course, is also a patient of Jane's.

The cast are terrific, and the comic set pieces are handled with precision and impeccable timing, even if not all of the jokes hit home. The film might not have quite the rapid fire witty dialogue of something like His Girl Friday, but the calamitous events come fast enough to paper over some of the script's cracks. This is also a film which rewards the eagle eyed, with random cameos from the likes of Tatum O'Neal and Michael Shannon, essentially playing extras. Occasionally this feels a little wasteful - Cybil Shepherd, as Isabella's mother, gets almost nothing interesting to say, which is a shame given her gift for comedy, but perhaps Bogdanovich just wanted some of his old pals in the movie.

There's also a cameo at the end, which we won't spoil, which almost derails the whole thing with its awfulness. Yet by that point the film has garnered enough good will to get away with it, and a hell of a lot of it is down to the wonderful Imogen Poots, whose star continues to rise.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2015
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A married director falls for a prostitute-turned-actress.
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Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Writer: Peter Bogdanovich, Louise Stratten

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Imogen Poots, Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Hahn, Tatum O'Neal, Lucy Punch, Owen Wilson, Debi Mazar, Jennifer Esposito, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans, Cybill Shepherd, Colleen Camp, Joanna Lumley, Illeana Douglas

Year: 2014

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2015

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