Woody Allen acknowledged in USA Today that he has a small following (but loyal, very small and very loyal). That following has allowed him to toss out about one movie a year for the last half decade. None of these have been outstanding, but they’ve all been predictably fun, in spite of what fellow Movie Habit critic Matt Anderson might say.
With Anything Else, Allen tries to reach a younger audience. Jason Biggs now plays the neurotic Jewish Manhattanite, while Christina Ricci plays the love interest. Allen gives himself an older role to play; he’s the wise spirit guide sent to help our hero through his trials.
R for sexual references, one scene of drug use
Jerry and Amanda are the happy couple. Jerry is Allen-esque, a comedy writer with a healthy libido. He’s already seeing an analyst at 21. Amanda’s role is clearly written by a man. She’s a bundle of contradictions proportioned to drive men crazy. Ricci is fun to watch, but her unflappable flakiness is less plausible than, say, Diane Keaton’s.
The flashback to the beginning of their relationship is charming. On a double date, Jerry is so smitten by Amanda that he insists he loves mosquitoes and snakes, simply to have something in common with the dark-haired beauty.
But now, Jerry and Amanda’s one-year anniversary isn’t going so well — Amanda is hours late for dinner and she’s already eaten. This spawns an argument (of course), and the couple decide to just go home and call it a night. They can’t just kiss and make up, either. They haven’t made love for six months.
Allen shows up as Dobel, another comedy writer who meets Jerry when they both apply for the same job. (Danny DeVito adds some star power as Jerry’s agent, whom Dobel encourages Jerry to fire.)
At its core, Anything Else is a Woody Allen movie. The plot is thin and the characters are recycled from any other Allen movie. Like the rest of them, this movie is all about the dialogue and the one-liners.
Even for Allen, Anything Else is a little wordy. Arguments about relationships go on a little too long, and then the conversations with friends about the relationships kick in. At least the script is rife with good one-liners. Dobel tells Jerry that “the Pentagon should use her hormones for chemical warfare.”
But unless Biggs and Ricci touch a nerve with the college crowd, Anything Else probably won’t increase Allen’s small following. It’s not one of his better recent films. On the other hand, it’s not so bad that he’ll alienate any of his loyal followers.