Starring: Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Parker Posey, Sheryl Lee, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll, Tess Frazer (Rated M – 96 min).
Unlikely romance is in the air set around the arrival of 1930s Hollywood for young ambitious Bronx boy Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg). He visits his agent to the stars Uncle Phil (Steve Carell) who can’t get through a cocktail without closing three deals, such is his popularity.
He promptly leads Bobby around tinsel town opening his eyes to a different world while still remaining undecided on what he wants to do, other than having a break from New York. That is until instantly falling for his Uncle’s secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) which changes everything. Eventually taking in more than just the view together, the pair are two peas in a pod.
The film shifts back to The Big Apple where a gangster subplot sets in alongside Jewish jokes galore – either pleasant, upbeat or slightly sad ultimately projecting warmth to the characters within the opposite’s attract love story at heart.
Written and directed by cinematic genius Woody Allen, also serving as narrator. Like him or not, his annual movie offering always contains observational brilliance to his comedic elements around, more often than not, a few cringeworthy moments that either work, or not.
Allen never fails to ensemble a grandiose cast igniting not only his lead stars but igniting smaller roles to memorable comedic spurts in minor scenes. In his second Allen effort, after From Rome with Love (2012), Eisenberg emulates his director’s unique nervous mannerisms and sarcasm.
Glam pair Parker Posey and Blake Lively both understated, while Corey Stoll (making an impact in the recent season of Girls) as a family member in the concrete business, code for The Mob. Harking back to Gangster infused Allen classics Broadway Danny Rose (1984), Sweet and Lowdown (1999), or Bullets Over Broadway (1994), these distinct plot arcs are easily the most hilarious.
Cinematography highlights the dreamy landscapes of Los Angeles to the New York skylines recreating the era to lit perfection while across the soundtrack, jazz pumps up the ambiance of times gone by.
As a quaint, unusual romantic comedy, cupid hits the mark. Although I cannot resist the charm of a Woody Allen film, especially when he takes a trip down movie memory lane. They are all an acquired taste, not for everyone.
Shane A. Bassett
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