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Woody's Midnight Snoozer
Keep the Doors Bolted and Tie Him Up in Bed
I have to stick with the minority opinion regarding "Midnight in Paris." Happily, for Woody, the film was a critic and fan success, but for me "Midnight" was a bomb.
My opinion is that Woody has become so successful (even with a niche of steadfast fans here and abroad) and fawned/coddled over that he's lost his roots of comedy.
We haven't seen his kin pop up at the dinner table in a long time. He dreams up whimsical ideas and suffocates them with tired dialogue, most of which could have been lifted straight out of a dozen of his other movies.
In a way he keeps making the same movie over and over ad nauseum. It hurts to watch the fluffy junk he is directing now, as I was once one of his biggest fans.
It will never happen but Woody needs to try writing about something other than Manhattan (or Paris) socialites and dig his teeth into a topic of relevance to a wider audience. I think he topped out with the remarkable "Husbands and Wives," but that was made at least a decade ago. I keep watching, hoping that his next effort will be a gem.
Woody needs to step outside of his apartment and listen to what the "petty bourgeois" is talking about.
He couldn't do an appealing stand-up act today because his bubble-world isolates him from the ordinary. He's just lost touch with what typical people laugh about. I didn't find anything special about his trip backward in time to a "classic" period of Paris (although the film admits that one's perspective is always limited or biased). It's a unique enough idea, but the entire movie surrounds this single premise.
You get the idea after his first encounter with Hemingway, but that just isn't enough. The protagonist has to go ahead and meet every celebrity of that time period, which is repetitive and dull.
After all the accolades the film acquired at Cannes, my expectations were probably too high. Normally, I rarely see any reviews pertaining to Woody's directing/writing -- and when I do, they are almost uniformly negative. Since Woody Allen is well-past his prime, the protagonist is played by Owen Wilson to no great result. Wilson doesn't to fit into this movie at all (I'm not sure who would). He has a home-spun quality about him, and he looks out of place on the boulevards or night clubs of Paris. It isn't his fault. He was simply miscast.
I'm happy that Woody is receiving some recognition, I just wish it was for a film that deserved the attention.