ANYTHING ELSE Add To My Top 10

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Sex        
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Release Date: September 19, 2003

Starring: Woody Allen, Jason Biggs, Christina Ricci, Danny DeVito, and Stockard Channing

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Jared
Stallones In ANYTHING ELSE,
Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs), an
aspiring writer, falls in love
with Amanda, a comically
neurotic, manipulative actress
(Christina Ricci), who hooks
him by overt seduction and
keeps him on the line by
withholding sex. As Jerry's
frustration grows, so does the
complexity of her avoidance
techniques. Mix in a clingy
hack agent, Harvey (Danny
DeVito), Amanda's boozy
mother, Paula (Stockard
Channing), and, of course,
Woody Allen presiding over all
as Jerry's slightly paranoid
advisor. The results are
chaotic and often
humorous. ANYTHING ELSE fits
solidly into the Woody Allen
stable of philosophical
romantic comedies, but
includes a fresh twist. Allen
often plays a schnook in love,
ranting sardonically to an
empty universe. In recent
films, though, this Allen
staple has challenged audience
credibility, especially as his
paramours seemed to grow
younger as he aged. In
ANYTHING ELSE, Allen enlists
Jason Biggs to play his
customary role, while Allen
plays David Dobel, a
world-weary and wisecracking
schoolteacher. In this guise,
Allen gets to propound his
worldview directly. Dobel
becomes a mentor and guide for
Jerry, showering him with
enigmatic pontifications such
as, "work gives the illusion
of meaning, sex gives the
illusion of continuity," and
"your shrink, like God, never
speaks, like God, is dead,"
and the title line that "life
is mysterious, just like
'anything else.'" Jerry's
increasing frustration and
unhappiness with Amanda cause
him to be especially
susceptible to Dobel's
influence, even to the point
of purchasing a rifle and
assembling a survival kit
against unspecified
"anti-Semitic" forces. For all
of his philosophical
detachment, Dobel is a violent
paranoid. While Jerry tries to
make sense of Dobel's
pronouncements, he is consumed
by jealousy, especially
because Amanda seems receptive
to all advances but his. When
he finally lures her into a
liaison, she suffers an
anxiety attack and rushes to
the hospital, only to flirt
shamelessly with the examining
physician. Jerry and Amanda's
shared apartment becomes a
tense place. The tension
increases when Amanda's mother
moves in and hounds Jerry to
write material for her
nightclub comeback. To add to
Jerry's angst, his agent,
Harvey, seeks to renew his
contract, as Jerry is his only
client. Jerry is torn between
obligation and his aspirations
as a novelist and playwright.
No wonder he covets Jean Paul
Sartre's NO EXIT as a birthday
gift. New York City is a
supporting character in
ANYTHING ELSE. Allen frames
scenes with beautiful shots of
Central Park, the city
skyline, and sidewalk cafes in
which everyone is witty and
nobody works. The production
quality of ANYTHING ELSE
matches the high standards of
MANHATTAN and EVERYONE SAYS I
LOVE YOU, and the musical
score is heavily laced with
classic jazz, a passion for
Allen. Jason Biggs gamely
tackles Woody Allen's
traditional role as lovesick
nihilist, even taking on the
Allenesque task of narrating
directly into the camera.
Sadly, Biggs is no Woody
Allen, and comes across simply
as a confused schlemiel. His
commentary lacks Allen's wry
humor. In some scenes with
Allen, Biggs seems to be
simply reading his lines, as
if thrown off balance by the
rhythm of Allen's patter. The
rest of the cast is marvelous.
Christina Ricci inhabits
Amanda and the audience cannot
wait to see what curves she
will throw the hapless Jerry.
At the beginning of their
relationship, she tells Jerry,
"I've had a crush on you since
we first met. Couldn't you
tell by the way I ignored
you?" Danny DeVito is funny as
Harvey, Jerry's clinging,
desperate manager, and
Stockard Channing is perfect
as Paula, Amanda's boozy and
co-dependent mother. Jimmy
Fallon is underutilized as
Amanda's boyfriend,
Bob. ANYTHING ELSE is typical,
if amusing, Woody Allen fare.
Allen continues to confuse sex
for love and rage against a
God that he claims does not
exist. Early in the movie,
Dobel refers to God as the
"giant so what." He still has
no solution to his persistent
questions about "man's fate in
an empty universe - no God, no
hope." As a result, his
characters spend their days
coupling and uncoupling,
manipulating and hurting one
another, drinking and taking
drugs, and wondering what it
is all about. Allen paints a
bleak and uninviting picture
of a universe without God, and
his humor is little solace
when facing the void.
Characters delivering lines
like "I'd commit suicide, but
I've got so many problems it
wouldn't solve them all"
elicit many chuckles, but do
not mask the horror of the
world Allen envisions. After
all, an existentialist, even a
funny one, is only a cowardly
nihilist. Please address your
comments to: David Geffen,
Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven
Spielberg DreamWorks SKG 1000
Flower Street Glendale, CA
91201 Phone: (818)
695-5000 Website:
www.dreamworks.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 108 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(HHH, Ro, PC, AP, LLL, SS, N, A, DD, AP) Philosophical focus of film is very strong humanist existentialism, with one character strongly nihilistic, main characters driven by emotion and desire, and politically correct elements where four characters oppose gun ownership by Americans; three obscenities and 29 profanities (some as exclamations); no violence; four scenes of couple kissing passionately or in bed together covered by sheets, and frequent frank discussions of sexuality; several scenes of main character in tight shirt and panties, bra and panties, and tight clothing; eight scenes of social drinking-beer, wine, liquor; one scene of illegal drug use-cocaine and numerous scenes of one character smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality such as manipulation.

GENRE: Romantic Comedy

HHH

Ro

PC

AP

LLL

N

A

DD

M

SS

Summary:

Jason Biggs stars in ANYTHING ELSE, by Woody Allen, as an aspiring writer who falls in love with a comically neurotic, manipulative actress, played by Christina Ricci. ANYTHING ELSE is classic Woody Allen, but it's a sad commentary on life in a universe without God and without hope.

Review:

In ANYTHING ELSE, Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs), an aspiring writer, falls in love with Amanda, a comically neurotic, manipulative actress (Christina Ricci), who hooks him by overt seduction and keeps him on the line by withholding sex. As Jerry's frustration grows, so does the complexity of her avoidance techniques. Mix in a clingy hack agent, Harvey (Danny DeVito), Amanda's boozy mother, Paula (Stockard Channing), and, of course, Woody Allen presiding over all as Jerry's slightly paranoid advisor. The results are chaotic and often humorous.

ANYTHING ELSE fits solidly into the Woody Allen stable of philosophical romantic comedies, but includes a fresh twist. Allen often plays a schnook in love, ranting sardonically to an empty universe. In recent films, though, this Allen staple has challenged audience credibility, especially as his paramours seemed to grow younger as he aged. In ANYTHING ELSE, Allen enlists Jason Biggs to play his customary role, while Allen plays David Dobel, a world-weary and wisecracking schoolteacher. In this guise, Allen gets to propound his worldview directly. Dobel becomes a mentor and guide for Jerry, showering him with enigmatic pontifications such as, "work gives the illusion of meaning, sex gives the illusion of continuity," and "your shrink, like God, never speaks, like God, is dead," and the title line that "life is mysterious, just like 'anything else.'" Jerry's increasing frustration and unhappiness with Amanda cause him to be especially susceptible to Dobel's influence, even to the point of purchasing a rifle and assembling a survival kit against unspecified "anti-Semitic" forces. For all of his philosophical detachment, Dobel is a violent paranoid.

While Jerry tries to make sense of Dobel's pronouncements, he is consumed by jealousy, especially because Amanda seems receptive to all advances but his. When he finally lures her into a liaison, she suffers an anxiety attack and rushes to the hospital, only to flirt shamelessly with the examining physician. Jerry and Amanda's shared apartment becomes a tense place. The tension increases when Amanda's mother moves in and hounds Jerry to write material for her nightclub comeback. To add to Jerry's angst, his agent, Harvey, seeks to renew his contract, as Jerry is his only client. Jerry is torn between obligation and his aspirations as a novelist and playwright. No wonder he covets Jean Paul Sartre's NO EXIT as a birthday gift.

New York City is a supporting character in ANYTHING ELSE. Allen frames scenes with beautiful shots of Central Park, the city skyline, and sidewalk cafes in which everyone is witty and nobody works. The production quality of ANYTHING ELSE matches the high standards of MANHATTAN and EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU, and the musical score is heavily laced with classic jazz, a passion for Allen.

Jason Biggs gamely tackles Woody Allen's traditional role as lovesick nihilist, even taking on the Allenesque task of narrating directly into the camera. Sadly, Biggs is no Woody Allen, and comes across simply as a confused schlemiel. His commentary lacks Allen's wry humor. In some scenes with Allen, Biggs seems to be simply reading his lines, as if thrown off balance by the rhythm of Allen's patter.

The rest of the cast is marvelous. Christina Ricci inhabits Amanda and the audience cannot wait to see what curves she will throw the hapless Jerry. At the beginning of their relationship, she tells Jerry, "I've had a crush on you since we first met. Couldn't you tell by the way I ignored you?" Danny DeVito is funny as Harvey, Jerry's clinging, desperate manager, and Stockard Channing is perfect as Paula, Amanda's boozy and co-dependent mother. Jimmy Fallon is underutilized as Amanda's boyfriend, Bob.

ANYTHING ELSE is typical, if amusing, Woody Allen fare. Allen continues to confuse sex for love and rage against a God that he claims does not exist. Early in the movie, Dobel refers to God as the "giant so what." He still has no solution to his persistent questions about "man's fate in an empty universe - no God, no hope." As a result, his characters spend their days coupling and uncoupling, manipulating and hurting one another, drinking and taking drugs, and wondering what it is all about. Allen paints a bleak and uninviting picture of a universe without God, and his humor is little solace when facing the void. Characters delivering lines like "I'd commit suicide, but I've got so many problems it wouldn't solve them all" elicit many chuckles, but do not mask the horror of the world Allen envisions. After all, an existentialist, even a funny one, is only a cowardly nihilist.

Please address your comments to:

David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg

DreamWorks SKG

1000 Flower Street

Glendale, CA 91201

Phone: (818) 695-5000

Website: www.dreamworks.com

SUMMARY: Jason Biggs stars in ANYTHING ELSE, by Woody Allen, as an aspiring writer who falls in love with a comically neurotic, manipulative actress, played by Christina Ricci. ANYTHING ELSE is classic Woody Allen, but it's a sad commentary on life in a universe without God and without hope.

In Brief: