Movie Review #815: ‘Anything Else’, more than anything else, needs desperately a cast that isn’t obnoxious.
By Alexander Diminiano
|Rated R (contains brief drug use, suggestive dialogue)|
“Anything Else” is a very careless title for a film. Not meaning that the title was lazily chosen, but that it possesses an aura of laziness. And as a lazy title, it’s perfect for this film.
There’s a character in this film that is presented as a sage and speaks ever so bombastically. His name is Dobel, and perhaps in the words of Dobel, “Anything Else” phlebotomizes with torpescence, or maybe there’s an even crazier pair of words meaning “bleeds with apathy” that cannot simply be found in a four-second search of the thesaurus. Can we really expect to laugh at a movie that pairs the writer-director-star of “Annie Hall” with the star of the “American Pie” movies? Woody Allen and Jason Biggs are both comedians for sure, but certainly not of the same brand of comedy. I’ve gotta say, it’s quite surprising that the two work convincingly as an onscreen duo, which is what we notice as early as act one, scene one, line one, as we watch Allen and Biggs sit and chat on a park bench. I was pretty surprised how funny this opening was, as well. But really, it’s only because Woody Allen is a funny guy, and when he’s being a funny guy, the fact that he’s a funny guy is truthfully the only thing we care about.
And then, Woody Allen is realized to be a supporting character, rather than part of the main cast. We’re left to sit through a story about Biggs and his unpleasant, unfaithful wife (Christina Ricci). The outstanding problem with this is that Biggs clashes with just about every gosh darn word in Woody Allen’s screenplay. And lord have mercy on my living soul, to think about Biggs speaking to the camera is such a dreadful and hideous thought. It’s so unconvincing. “Anything Else” is essentially “Annie Hall”, except this isn’t any hue of a classic, and it has its spotlight on an even younger couple. If Allen makes this tale a third time, let’s hope he finds not a younger but a better couple to play the lead characters.
“Anything Else” lacks the interest of even a half-decent comedy. This movie is so predictable in its own nature that it becomes rather tiring trying to smile and nod as it attempts to surprise us. It’s sloppy, unrealistic, and increasingly obnoxious. As an actor, Woody Allen provides the muscles for this movie, but they don’t seem to be working hardly at all. While he steals every scene, he’s not worth recommending the movie in any way.
The one-liners and a certain scene involving the shifting of a rental piano across a room stand out in this movie. Also, watching Woody Allen connect with Jason Biggs in a Miyagiesque way was funny in itself. But these are all because of one actor–the same guy who wrote and directed this schlock. When he’s not onscreen and an especially pathetic assortment of “actors” and “actresses” (Christina Ricci bearing the biggest set of quotation marks) is, the film fails to entertain and succeeds to annoy.