20 March 1999 | ahab-5
Same formula, different protagonist
I must give Woody Allen credit for one thing: At least he seems to have stopped pretending that every gorgeous woman on earth is standing in line to throw herself at his protagonist. But what has he done instead? He has simply cast Kenneth Branagh in his place as a somewhat younger and more handsome substitute, but one who is, alas, no less frumpy, neurotic, unaccomplished and ultimately dislikable as Allen´s now-stock character has become in recent years. Really, watching Branagh imitate Allen to a "T" may be an interesting idea for a skit, but after about 25 minutes it is painful, and by the end of the film it is downright embarrassing. The Allen theme of "womanizer gets his comeuppance" is by now quite predictable, and this film does not deviate from it one bit. Some of the social satire is clever, as usual, but "Celebrity" ends up dying on the vine because of its wildly improbable insistence that nymphomaniac supermodels and barely-legal literary beauties cannot keep their hands off of a male protagonist who neither exhibits any sort of charisma nor has any kind of achievements to his credit. At least in many earlier Allen movies--and despite this and other recent efforts I am still a big fan of his work as a whole--there was a certain charm and allure to that one-note character of his. But merely inserting Kenneth Branagh to talk and act exactly like Woody Allen was definitely not the solution to the creativity problems which have plagued his films lately.