From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Sep 4 13:09:43 2016
SHE'S FUNNY THAT WAY (2015)
A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth
** (out of ****)
What's up, doc? Who takes a large and capable (if disappointingly
white-bread) cast--Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Will Forte, Kathryn Hahn, Jennifer Aniston, Rhys Ifans, Austin Pendleton, Illeana Douglas, Michael Shannon, Cybill Shepherd, Richard Lewis, Debi Mazar, Joanna Lumley, Lucy
Punch, Tatum O'Neal, Colleen Camp, and yes, even Quentin Tarantino--and
gives them nothing to work with?
Peter Bogdanovich, that's who.
The principal proponent of the latter-day screwball comedy,
Bogdanovich has screwed this one up royally, giving us few classic
screwball situations and ever fewer classic screwball lines (where's the
funny in "She's Funny That Way"?). I counted a grand total of four screwballers, delivered by Aniston (on therapy etiquette, and when
brandishing a knife), Wilson (the elevator crack), and a criminally underutilized Shannon (his one brief scene). Three out of four of these
you'll already have seen in the trailer.
Despite all that, this script-less entity, credited to the director
and his ex (Louise Stratten), does actually produce a handful of decent performances. The aforementioned Aniston is queenly in her bitchiness and
TV staple Hahn ("Transparent," "Parks and Recreation," "Happyish") also impresses as Wilson's wife and leading lady (he's a theater director).
Best of the bunch, though, is Poots, who delivers her
straight-outta-Brooklyn aspiring actress with delightful sass and
conviction (her native Hammersmith accent slips out only once, in a scene
in which she and Forte admire one of those famed unicorn tapestries).
Poots sticks it--and glows--as Izzy Patterson, a call girl with the
oddly uncomfortable moniker of Glowstick who, ahem, escorts Wilson's Arnold Albertson when he comes to town--this time he's here to direct a Broadway
play. Wilson appears to be stuck in "Midnight in Paris" mode throughout.
It makes sense, given how much "She's Funny That Way" mimics a Woody Allen farce, but it doesn't make his neuroses any more palatable.
Via the subtle intricacies of the plot (yeah, right), Izzy winds up
being cast in Arnold's stage production of "A Greek Evening" and things
quickly get triangular, with Forte's sappy playwright vying for her ample attentions. Creating additional noises off are Hahn and Ifans, whose characters had a fling back when they co-starred on the London stage.
"She's Funny That Way" isn't unwatchable by any means. It's just not funny. That--or any other--way.