16 September 2000 | stills-6
The experiment works
High camp and high neuroses in the same picture.
If you get everything you ever wanted, you still aren't satisfied because your own fantasies can never be truly fulfilled in the real world. It's kind of what Woody Allen is saying by making this movie into a goofy musical. It's his own fantasy of what movies used to be like, but can't ever be anymore. The small touches of realism, like the grocery store heist or the homeless man breaking out into song provide both humor and a commentary on how unsubstantial and irrelevant musicals are. But aren't they fun?
The most obvious example of the theme is the Julia Roberts storyline. She gets everything she ever wanted, but instead of making her happy in her new life, it helps her therapy for her old life. Joe was married to Steffi, all the woman he ever wanted, but he was so afraid it would fall apart that it did fall apart. Skylar wants a man to take control and sweep her off her feet, but when Charles Ferry comes along and does just that, she can't live with the consequences. There are other examples.
The execution of the movie is awkward and sometimes off-putting. But this movie is an experiment in form x function - what kind of story lends itself to the musical form? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. For example, it used to be that musicals helped you into the mood by introducing songs, something that couldn't be done here because of the very nature of the story. It can be stagey and forced if you're not already in the mood. On the whole, however, everyone seems to be having a good time, and it shows up in mostly loose, endearing performances - even the ever-annoying Goldie Hawn, who I'd normally want to toss in the river in any other movie.