1998, Movie, R, 113 mins


How much you think you'd enjoy watching Kenneth Branagh mimic Woody Allen's distinctive physical and verbal mannerisms should be a factor in whether or not you decide to see this self-indulgent wallow in privileged malaise. Freelance writer Lee Simon (Branagh) is having a midlife crisis, precipitated by his high-school reunion. He doesn't want to be some anonymous scribbler married to a schoolteacher: He wants to be that road-company warbler with the bimbo on his arm who serenades his classmates with "The Impossible Dream." So Lee dumps wife Robin (Judy Davis) and ventures into the star-studded void of Manhattan nightlife, where voracious sluts elbow each other aside in their eagerness to service him. A movie star (Melanie Griffith) gives him a blow job. A "polymorphously perverse" model (Charlize Theron) picks him up at a fashion show. A hooker with literary aspirations (Lorri Bagley) joins him in a hotel-room liaison alongside a hot young star (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his girl (Gretchen Mol). A brainy book editor (Famke Janssen) moves in with Lee, only to have him call the whole thing off as the movers are delivering her stuff, because he yearns for an aspiring actress (Winona Ryder). Robin, meanwhile, has fallen for a charming TV producer (Joe Mantegna) and become a TV star. Insecure about her sexual prowess, she consults a hooker with a technique of gold (Bebe Neuwirth), who chokes on a banana while trying to demonstrate its particulars. Leaving aside the coarseness of these shenanigans, and the unpleasantness of watching a stellar parade of actors who should know better than indulge in them, this film's bumbling shtick and unrelenting sourness are hugely off-putting. About the best thing that can be said is that unlike most of Allen's self-centered nebbishes, Lee more or less gets what he deserves: bupkis. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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