I can't think of another filmmaker who delights and disappoints, in equal measure, as consistently as Woody Allen. I love approximately every other movie he makes ... and want to walk out on the rest. You never know if you're going to get the brilliant (Annie Hall, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Match Point) Woody or the dull (Cassandra's Dream, Celebrity) one. You can only hope.
And, I had high hopes for his latest effort, which has gotten stellar reviews. Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams are adorable and always winning, and the film is a cinematic love letter to the Paris of the 1920s. So far, so good. But, it's a great concept (and cast) that falls far short of what it could've been.
And, it's the screenwriter Woody's fault. This is a great notion that's just not well-executed.
Here's the plot: Gil (Wilson) and Inez (McAdams) are engaged and tagging along on her dad's big business trip to Paris. No one is happy to be there, except for Gil, a successful screenwriter and would-be novelist. Gil is in love with the romantic ideal of what Paris must've been like during the days Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Picasso and other artistic and literary greats held court there.
Inez is a real harpy, and we have no idea why a romantic dreamer like Gil would've proposed to her. Gil wanders the Parisian streets alone one night and is crazily transported to his favorite era, where he gets to meet the artistic giants of the day. And, guess what? They're boring!
Dali, Scott and Zelda, Man Ray ... such charismatic characters and, yet, so flat in this depiction. They're nothing but caricatures. It's such a waste of Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard and other outstanding actors.
It doesn't feel like Woody knew what to do once he got Gil to the Paris of the 1920s. Gil is happier there than he is in present-day Paris with his complaining wife and her awful parents. Sadly, the audience isn't so happy in either the past or the present. Skip it.