After returning from my Star Trek screening and the trailers beforehand (trailers that leaned WAY towards the kiddie set, which should tell you just what the studios think of the new Trek fanbase), I was all set to write about the clip for the Transformers sequel. But by that third lingering closeup of Megan Fox writhing atop a motorcycle in booty shorts, I figured the marketing strategy was to actively repel me from seeing this movie. And then I remembered how insanely boring the first Transformers was and I was fine with being repelled. So instead, let's talk about Woody Allen!
So we all know Woody's been on something of a hot streak lately, with two very good movies (Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona) and two not bad movies (Scoop, Cassandra's Dream) in the last four years. It seemed like the common denominator for all those successes was a sense of reinvigoration that came with Woody going abroad and tackling characters that -- while they may have remained obsessed with the usual Woody themes like fidelity, lust, paranoia, and guilt -- seemed to fall outside of his usual scope. Certainly, working with actors like Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Colin Farrell, and new muse Scarlett Johansson has broadened the scope a bit.
Which is all going a long way to say that Woody's return to the neurotic streets of New York makes me worry about regression. It's interesting that so much of the advance word on this film has been talking about how Larry David absolutely does NOT deliver a Woody Allen impersonation in this movie, as has been the common trap with actors playing the Alvy Singer role, so to speak. So, no, Larry David isn't doing a Woody Allen impersonation. He is doing his very best Larry David impersonation, however. With a splash of Jack Nicholson's character from As Good As It Gets thrown in. (Even the title, Whatever Works, makes it seem like a spiritual sibling to that James L. Brooks movie, which has been called overrated so many times I think it now might be a bit underrated.)
So, yeah, I can't say as any of this feels in any way fresh -- that Spanish breeze that swept through Vicky Christina Barcelona (which made my top ten from 2008) is completely gone. I suppose the whole Southern angle could be something we haven't seen out of Woody before, but Evan Rachel Wood looks to be playing the same naive young thing grossly paired up with the creepy old protagonist. It even puts a damper on what objectively looks like a fun Patricia Clarkson performance. And then there's the whole issue of Henry Cavil being in the movie and yet only barely, if trailer screen time is any indication.
On the bright side, the trailer suggests an amusing movie that, even if it's nothing new, could be a pleasant enough couple hours at the movies. It's just too bad it comes after we'd all been reminded that Woody Allen can do more than that.