28 June 2000 | tfrizzell
A Strong Supporting Cast Dominates the Action
A Woody Allen written and directed film that does not include him in a single frame. It may seem strange, but it's true. Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" deals with a struggling stage writer (John Cusack) who is so desperate to get one of his plays on Broadway in the 1920s that he reluctantly enlists the help of the local mafia crime lord to fund the play. Of course there is a large stipulation. The crime lord's girl must be in the play (hilariously played by Jennifer Tilly in an Oscar-nominated role). Needless to say she's terrible and Cusack struggles with her in the play. However, he has booked A-list actress Dianne Wiest (in her second Oscar-winning role) who is an alcoholic who has seen better days in her career. Tilly's bodyguard (Chazz Palminteri, also in an Oscar-nominated role) sees the play rehearsed firsthand and gives Cusack some directions on the project that Cusack cannot refuse. Palminteri is street smart and knows how people really talk, while Cusack is so educated that his words make no sense to the normal audience. This film is what "The Godfather" would have been like if Allen had directed it. The screenplay is outstanding and Allen's direction has rarely been better. Cusack is fun and hilarious, but it is the supporting cast that makes the movie work. Other than the aforementioned Oscar-nominated actors, there are great turns by several others. Mary-Louise Parker, Tracy Ullman, Jim Broadbent, Jack Warden, Rob Reiner, Harvey Feinstein, and Joe Viterelli are all superb in well-calculated supporting roles. 4 out of 5 stars.