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Confession of Murder

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Home · Articles · Movies · Drama · Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

‘Midnight in Paris’ is not the comedic trip of a lifetime, but merely your average diversion from the oft-overrated Woody Allen.

Rod Lott June 8th, 2011

As I’ve wondered for nearly as long as I’ve watched his films, when does Woody Allen’s pass expire?

Just because you’re responsible for some certifiable classics doesn’t mean every project you touch is gold. Each year, the prolific but private writer/ director adds another work to his filmography, and critics gush, only to grow indifferent toward it once the newness wears off. Can’t we just call a spade a spade?

The Woodman’s latest to be touted as “his best in years” is “Midnight in Paris,” opening Friday exclusively at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24. It’s neither a work of excellence, nor mere greatness. Like a majority of Allen’s work, it’s simply a decent diversion, and nothing more. If any other filmmaker’s name were attached, how would it be received?

But wow, does it start with an absolutely dynamic sequence that raises one’s hopes. Similar to his rightly celebrated, George Gershwin-scored prologue to 1979’s “Manhattan,” this featherweight comedy opens with a day-to-night montage of spots around the City of Light. For the whole of a jazz number, each shot appears for four seconds; each has you lusting after a one-way ticket.

From a pure standpoint of scenery, “Midnight in Paris” is worth the $9.50 investment. For entertainment value, it’s not — unless you’re so easily amused that the mere mention of a famous name sends you into inexplicable fits of laughter.

Owen Wilson (“Hall Pass”) is Allen’s neurotic stand-in as Gil, a hack screenwriter who longs to write the Great American Novel. He’s accompanying his spoiled fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams, “Sherlock Holmes”), on a trip to Paris. One evening, strolling its streets alone, he’s transported via magical cab to the 1920s, where he befriends such literary and artistic giants as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dalí and so on.

And I do mean “and so on.” If that smacks of gimmickry, that’s because it is. Essentially, the no-brain comedy “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” did the same thing in 1999. It wasn’t all that funny, either.

Don’t mistake every line as some brilliant bon mot, as some audience members are wont to do — the ones who wish the rest of the theater to believe them of superior intelligence because they recognize the names Alice B. Toklas and Edgar Degas. So did I; so what?

These fantasy sequences play curiously flat and bereft of ideas; I’d much rather have watched Gil and Inez continue sight-seeing with her college crush, an arrogant bore played by a scene-stealing Michael Sheen (“TRON: Legacy”). Much of the plot then would be removed, but at least interest would exist.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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06.14.2011 at 06:28 Reply

I lost interest in everything Allen makes after coming to the realization that he romanticises infidelity.  Perhaps to make up for his own short comings, he seems to seek absolution for falling in love with someone other than his wife.  Unfortunately I think he does a disservice to the brainless few who watch his movies.  People without the common sense to realize that their lives are not a work of fiction, and that having an affair will not have the happy ending often portrayed on screen.  

After a while, I begin to think his audience is comprised of those wanting to cheat on their spouse and by watching movies that condone that action with their spouse both parties will become accepting to the idea.  So what kind of message does that send?  It's easier to find someone else to fullfill your needs, than to discuss and work out the problems with someone you "love."  

Allen's perspecitve on love is truly warped, that's his journey, but pushing that perspective onto everyone else in attempt to feel better about his own mistakes is really quite pathetic.  Why anyone wastes a cent on his films is beyond me.


06.16.2011 at 12:25 Reply

I agree with the basic thesis of this review.  Despite my having recently spent some time in Paris and still feeling a small glow of infatuation with the city, the film struck me as mediocre.  I am literally embarrassed when I hear reviewers fawn over it as if it demonstrates their intellectual bona fides.  Quite the contrary.

It's too bad.  Owen Wilson plays the neurotic to hilarious effect in Wes Anderson's films, but in Midnighthe seems to just be mimicking Allen.  I don't know if Wilson's schtick was due to Allen's direction and narcissism, but I found it distracting and boring.

That said, there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes in an over-air conditioned movie hole this summer.