Movie Review #813: ‘Celebrity’ is a bare ‘comedy’ with no laughs and, suspiciously enough, many desperate and successful attempts at discomforting its audience.
By Alexander Diminiano
|Rated R (contains brief drug use, sexual content, profanity)|
Editor’s Note: This is the first time I’ve given a movie zero stars since my review of “Movie 43”. That was over seven months ago, and over 170 reviews ago.
I have one thing to say about “Celebrity”. Maybe saying it will inspire me to say more about the film, though I hope not because I’d much rather impale myself with my own right leg than talk about this movie. Maybe saying this one thing will actually turn this into a full movie review like it theoretically should be, but a full review means talking about the movie, which, again, I’d rather not do. But whatever might come of it, I have one statement to make about “Celebrity”, and that’s that it should have never been made.
Let me explain why. The movie is nearly two hours of talent that has been pissed and shat on. It appalls me that this is the crime of Woody Allen, one of the greatest writer-directors in all of cinema’s history. Even his worst movies tend to be well-written, but “Celebrity” is a completely different story. This is a shameful, shameful movie. It’s the result of a free-thinking, independent comic’s decision to conform to what a mainstream audience wants. The script gets caught in between Allen’s signature humor and the humor that is most profitable at the box office, and as a result, “Celebrity” is extremely awkward wherever funny might have been the intention.
The cast is phenomenal in almost any other movie that I can immediately think of. In “Celebrity”, their styles, charisma, and believability are all watered down beyond the point of our very repulsion. In fact, “Celebrity” often seems to make a point of trying to evoke a feeling of extreme discomfort and disgust from its audience. Kenneth Branagh gives a bored, one-dimensional performance as an impersonator of the nebbish character that Woody Allen routinely plays. (I can see why Woody Allen didn’t want to appear in this movie; it’s as if he’s hiding in fear behind the camera.) We grow to hate this character almost as much as the movie itself, more and more with each passing minute. Worse is the twenty-minute performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, whose appearance is marked by incessant cursing and violent behavior. This guy makes “Goodfellas” mobster Henry Hill look like a villain on Scooby-Doo. DiCaprio is first seen engaging in a hideous argument with his wife, in which he comes pretty close to murdering her with his own two fists. Then, Branagh walks in and asks if it is an okay time for them to discuss business. The scene is meant to be funny, but the way it’s played is downright disturbing.
The whole rest of the cast goes to waste here, too. I won’t go through each and every microdebacle each cast member faces to compile this entire megadebacle, because it’s easy enough to just look at their names and assume that something terrible happens to them, and more than likely, it’s an incident that’s as embarrassing for their characters as it is for us to watch it happen. It’s as if every name of the ’90s (and even some up-and-comers) endures the catastrophe of “Celebrity”: Judy Davis, Winona Ryder, Melanie Griffith, Famke Janssen, Joe Mantegna, Charlize Theron, Hank Azaria, J. K. Simmons, Debra Messing, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Karen Duffy–even Donald Trump’s cameo induces quite some eyerolling!
Though, as excruciating as the movie was for me, I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like to have acted in it.