Woody Allen, Goldie Hawn, Julia Roberts
, Alan Alda, Drew Barrymore
Woody Allen appears to be attempting to revive the movie musical here. If so, nice try, but no cigar. Except, that is, for the plump stogies clamped in the mouths of characters dressed like Groucho in a bizarre production number set at a Marx Brothers-themed costume ball in Paris. Did I mention that this particular number is sung in French? As Groucho might have said, "Hello, I must be going."
Call Everyone middle-drawer Woody—about on par with A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy and Manhattan Murder Mystery. This latest movie, populated by Allen's familiar privileged Manhattanites, tracks the busy romantic lives of a ditzy family headed by Alda, a lawyer, and Hawn, a social activist who advocates giving prison inmates "a chance to decorate their own cells." These two, Allen (he plays Hawn's ex-hubby) and others break into popular ditties of yesteryear at the slightest hint of a deep feeling. Of the nonsingers, Hawn acquits herself best, while Allen and Roberts squawk through mercifully brief solos. Barrymore was dubbed.
The talented cast, which includes Tim Roth, Edward Norton and Natalie Portman
, is game enough, but what's missing is any real sense of purpose or moral weight. None of the characters' lives are changed by what transpires. Sure, this is an intentionally frothy musical, but even Maria quit the convent at the close of The Sound of Music. (R)