Retro Review: Anything Else

Jerry (Jason Biggs) is a guy afraid of being alone. He just wants the perfect girl and the perfect writing gig. But as all writers know happily ever after only exists in fairy tales.

Jerry’s latest girlfriend Amanda (Christina Ricci) is a beautiful actress who has her fair share of hang ups and ambiguous emotions.

Jerry loves her so much that he can’t believe in “anything else” but living happily ever after with Amanda. Jerry is one very naïve cookie.

Jerry’s friend and fellow writer Dobel (Woody Allen) believes that Jerry needs to help himself. Dobel gives Jerry all sorts of advice about Amanda, his agent (Danny DeVito), his career and personal security. Is the strange but surprisingly intelligent Dobel right about Jerry’s life?

“Anything Else” made the weakest connection to me of all the Woody Allen films I have seen. This is in part to three very important things in the film.

The first is the performance by Christina Ricci which is so believable and misleading that she will drive even the sanest person nuts. Ricci is outstanding and brilliant at how to push the exact buttons that would set people off. She is insane and highly unreasonable but also in a narcissistic way, engaging. Because she is so annoying and utterly brilliant it is hard to watch the film without feeling like you want to punch the screen.

The second is that Biggs and Allen play almost clones of one and another. Biggs has the same mannerisms and neurotic habits as Allen’s Dobel. Allen’s neurotic tendencies and brilliant dialogue has been a staple of his movie longevity.

His neurosis is great and classic but when you times that by two you become overwhelmed. Allen shouldn’t have played Dobel. But instead maybe the Danny DeVito character. Too much Allen isn’t a good thing.

The third and final thing is the subplot involving Dobel’s fascination with self protection and survival. I was a little disturbed by that subplot and the introduction of the whole rifle thing.

I felt like introducing that into such a sour atmosphere that was the Jerry/Amanda relationship was overboard. I was a little paranoid to how a gun may finish off the on-going problems. It really caught me off guard.

It was hard to look past these things to see some of the humor. There are a couple priceless lines I did like in the film and a brilliant performance for Ricci. “Anything Else” isn’t for everyone.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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