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Anything Else

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Anything Else

Starring: Woody Allen, Jason Biggs
Director: Woody Allen
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: September 2003
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Christina Ricci, Jimmy Fallon, Stockard Channing, Danny DeVito, Kenneth Edelson, Carson Grant, Diana Krall, Nicolas Pernisco, Kadee Strickland, Eric Tonken

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

"You don't want to let your life become newsreel footage scored by a cello in a minor key," David Dobel (Woody Allen) admonishes fellow comedy writer Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs). Jerry isn't just any jokester, he is nothing less than "quality fabric at affordable prices," at least according to Harvey (Danny DeVito), his eager agent. Just last year, as we learn in flashback, Jerry fell head-over-heels in love with Amanda (Christina Ricci). "There was something compelling about your apathy," he tells her about what first attracted him to her.

Yes, Woody's back! Replacing the ersatz writer who must have penned his last films, the real Woody, who has been nominated by the Academy an incredible thirteen times for best original screenplay -- he won for ANNIE HALL and HANNAH AND HER SISTERS -- is back in his finest form. Watching ANYTHING ELSE is like discovering a classic Woody Allen film that you had somehow missed. Although he still writes, directs and stars in ANYTHING ELSE, he turns over the leading role to Biggs, giving him mature dialog full of references to old singers like Billie Holliday and actors like Humphrey Bogart. Biggs, known mainly for his AMERICAN PIE series, proves to be a terrific comedic actor with a serious bent. Channeling Woody in every scene, Biggs gives a performance that is warm, inviting and insightful.

In a movie filled from top to bottom with perfectly delivered performances, it is Ricci who is the best and is the biggest surprise. Playing against her usual type as the sarcastic slut, she instead plays a real sweetheart of a character -- who is also a real slut. Her character is a very sexy young woman with a ridiculous obsession about her weight. Woody's writing, using his wide repertoire of jokes on subjects from quantum physics to great philosophers, is best when it sticks to his favorite subject -- sex. Ricci stays at the center of the sexual tension in the story as her character goes effortlessly from nymphomaniac to ice princess and back again.

"You choose psychoanalysis over real life?" David asks Jerry about his reluctance to move since he would have to give up his useless therapist. "Are you learning disabled?" Don't choose run-of-the-mill comedies when there is a genuine Woody Allen one available, especially one with such consistently hilarious and good-spirited humor. What a delight!

ANYTHING ELSE runs 1:48. It is rated R for "a scene of drug use and some sexual references" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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