Woody makes movies the same way he plays jazz, for himself. And what concerns him is metatext and self-awareness. So over the years he has marched through major styles of film -- mostly those which concern a self-aware shift from reality (or some other folding). Then he makes a picture that uses that style and comments on the style at the same time.
Now he comes to the musical, ripe with possibilities. That's because the musical has two realities already built into it: the `reality' of the story and that of the stage on which the numbers take place. Woody adds a third: the film of them both.
He sets it up as a recounting by a young girl, a journalism student daughter of a writer. She narrates and is told towards the end to write it up as a film, presumably the one we see. The plot devices all concern the romantic schism among realities.
It's a more intelligent notion that what we usually see in theaters. Sometimes Woody hits the clever track as with `Annie Hall' and `Sweet and Lowdown.' Sometimes he misses. He misses here (except for the Groucho bit, which is special). To see a much richer mining of the self-referential modern musical, see what friend Branagh did with a Shakespeare comedy (Love's Labour's Lost) after working with Woody on `Celebrity.'
Odd that people go to these films expecting to be entertained and judge them on that criterion.
But here's an interesting observation: This film is seen through a redhead's eyes (Natasha Lyonne). And Woody's art director responds. Her half-sister (Drew Barrymore) is made a redhead, so is her mother (Goldie Hawn), her father's love interest (Julia Roberts -- a natural red). Even Woody's hair is tinted red. You'd expect the psychiatrist to be included, and yup, she's red too.
Ted's evaluation: 2 of 4 -- Has some interesting elements.
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