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Woody Allen brings us his first film with big expectations following the giant success of Midnight in Paris. It’s set this time in Rome. My review.

To the people who loved Midnight in Paris. This is not the same thing. To the people who love Woody Allen. It’s right up your alley.

This film had a lot of expectations on it which is new for a Woody Allen film especially lately due to the commercial and critical success of Midnight in Paris. This time his muse is the city of Rome, Italy and in the style similar to a book of short stories, Allen takes us into the lives of people within the walls of the ancient city.

The stories include one about a young couple (Jesse Eisenberg and Greta Gerwig) who are studying in the city bring a friend (Ellen Page) who makes all men fall in love with her, a ordinary man (Roberto Benigni) who becomes a celebrity out of nowhere, an older couple (Woody Allen and Judy Davis) who are coming to visit their daughter (Alison Pill) and her fiancee (Flavio Parenti) and his family before they get married, and a newly wed couple who are in Rome for an important meeting in order for the husband to get a job. My favorite stories were the one about the ordinary man becoming a celebrity and the one with Woody Allen meeting his daughter’s family.

Roberto Benigni does a fantastic job as the ordinary man who walks out of his house one day and is somehow a celebrity. The clueless look that he has on his face at all time during his many interviews is priceless and the paparazzi that follow him and ask him the most bizarre questions are absolutely hilarious. The story gives a nice parable to the whole notion of being a celebrity. It kind of teaches us a lesson that like Benigni in the story, he always wanted people to hear what he had to say and when he finally got that he grew tired of it until he wanted out. But when he got out after awhile he realized he missed it and wanted it back but once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

Woody Allen is as neurotic and funny as ever as the father who equates retirement to death and wants to get back into the music business and be at work again. He finds an excuse in the father of his daughter’s fiancee who has an amazing voice. Allen wants him to follow a career in opera singing but the father is reluctant until he gets to do it while singing in the shower. As far-fetched and weird as that may seem, those scenes were cracking me up at how bizarre it was to have a man in a shower in the middle of an opera.

The weak points in the film came from just weaker stories. I wasn’t interested at all in the love triangle between Eisenberg, Page, and Gerwig and the character that Alec Baldwin played, while funny, was left undefined and was kind of randomly planted into the story. The story between the husband and wife was amusing once Penelope Cruz was added but otherwise was kind of bland and not well-written.

In conclusion, it wasn’t one of Woody Allen’s best works but it still was a solid effort and funny film. It has that typical Allen humor that you would expect out of his films and while it doesn’t have the great characters of some recent work like Midnight in Paris or Vicky Christina Barcelona it still is funny and within a wonderful city, I recommend it.

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