Fading Gigolo

Movie Review #908

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Limited release on April 18, 2014. Comedy. This film is rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity. Runs 90 minutes. American production. Director: John Turturro. Writer: John Turturro. Cast: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone, and Sofía Vergara.

A MODESTLY ENTERTAINING TEEN SEX COMEDY STARRING TWO GROWN MEN.

★★★
By Alexander Diminiano

You know Woody Allen’s getting old when his best movie this year isn’t, strictly speaking, his movie. “Fading Gigolo” is John Turturro’s movie, with Turturro directing, writing, and starring alongside Allen. But the spotlight’s completely on Allen, whose distinct style Turturro seems to imitate behind the camera. At the same time that the movie embraces Allen’s narrow genre of comedy, it seems to poke fun of it as well.

Turturro and Allen play a duo whose bookstore has just gone out on business. They currently run a flower shop that’ll likely meet the same fate. Incidentally, they succeed far more when they turn to the business of male prostitution. But will their newest profession survive in an Orthodox Jewish community? That Brooklyn demographic gets lovingly and hilariously caricatured in “Fading Gigolo”. The fact that most of the audience is most likely relatively unexposed to the cultural difference, is what opens that gate to much of the comedy in “Fading Gigolo”. For example, Liev Schreiber plays a cop who’s suspicious of the prostitute (Turturro) and his pimp (Allen). Not because he believes they might be breaking a U.S. law, but because he believes they’re breaking a Jewish law.

On any other day, “Fading Gigolo” would be a mainstream movie starring Morgan Freeman and Ben Stiller. Robert De Niro and Owen Wilson, maybe. The possibilities are innumerable. It’s essentially a teen sex comedy with a pair of adults. Admittedly, I’d rather see that with Freeman and Stiller or De Niro and Wilson, than with Allen and Turturro. They’re a more believable pair, yes, and they’re able to carry the movie for all but the last fifteen minutes or so. Turturro’s writing seems to lie back and scribble out a superficial ending. He and Allen start to wear off by the end, as well, in their onscreen performances. But the duo does hold up for most of the movie, and I’ll give ‘em that. I was overall entertained.

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