To Rome With Love

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to rome with love

Alec Baldwin in a very introspective role.

You can never trust a persons opinion if they say something like “I hate Woody Allen movies.”

It’s kind of like those statements where a comedian (Jerry Lewis, and most recently Adam Carolla) says no female comedians are funny.

You can tell me you hate Woody Allen the person. He married his stepdaughter.

You could even argue the best Woody Allen movies. So many great ones to choose from. Perhaps you could argue the funniest of his films. Even though his best days are behind him, I think I’m one of the few that liked Scoop and Casandra’s Dream.

I’m not sure why Allen decided to leave New York and make his films in Europe. Sure, it means a nice vacation for him, but…

He gave us four movies in London, one in Paris, another in Barcelona, and this one is in Italy. Try finding good corn beef there, Mr. Allen.

One thing I think most of us can agree on is that perhaps his movie-a-year pace should cease. Perhaps he feels it’s true what his wife in the movie says – that he equates retirement with death.

It would make for less sloppy pictures. For example, all the stories in To Rome are interesting and seem like they would’ve worked as short stories somewhere. This film needed a few more drafts, though.

Robert Benigni was perfectly cast as the regular guy who gets thrown into fame for reasons he’s not even aware of. That’s fun satire, but he gets old quick. Similar to the way we loved him in Life is Beautiful but got tired of him at the Oscars that year.

Another story involved Alec Baldwin as a famous architect, reliving his youth and correcting those bad decisions made by Jesse Eisenberg. He is dating indie film queen Greta Gerwig, but takes a liking to her friend Ellen Page. I initially thought she was miscast, because she’s supposed to have the ability to seduce anyone. The way she subtly played such a manipulative character, I think I’d take her over a prettier actress that wouldn’t have done as well in the role.

Judy Davis, who has done a handful of Allen flicks, plays his wife. They’re flying to Rome to meet their future son-in-law. When they argue politics it’s fun. Then Allen (the first time he’s been in one of his movies in six years) overhears the dad singing in the shower, and is convinced he can make this mortician the next big opera star. He’s played by real life opera tenor Fabio Armmiliato, and he has one small problem. He can only sing when he’s in the shower. A fun premise, if I didn’t love the Japanese movie Shower so much. It has a similar theme.

Another story involves newlyweds that get separated accidentally. During that time, Penelop Cruz shows up at the brides room. She’s a call girl that is at the wrong room. While they’re dealing with situations that are a bit too much like a sitcom, his wife runs into her favorite actor. She’s oblivious to his attempts to seduce her, and the story is a bit more fun.

I loved a line in this movie where Baldwin is trying to convince Eisenberg that the girl he fancies doesn’t really know a lot about the topics that interest him. She just “knows one line from every poet. Just enough to fake it.” Often times during this movie, I felt that was how Allen is when writing a script. So much of the name dropping just felt bizarre and pretentious.

I’ve often heard critics talk about how Allen gets fixated on certain actresses (Cruz, having appeared in Barcelona, comes to mind).

I find it odd that he seems to be fixated on the stories where older men chase younger women, and lots of sex talk that involves women with other women. Very strange.

There are some jokes in this film that are strong. Allen shaking hands with a mortician, who then informs him he has to clean up. This leaves Allen staring at his hand for the next few hours the way Howie Mandel might.

Yet many of the jokes could’ve been funnier if just tweaked a bit. I guess I’m supposed to believe that a retired opera conductor/producer would think that when his shower opera is panned in the press, that the word “imbecili” means “maestro.”

How is it the audience can figure out the word, but this character couldn’t?

Rome is obviously beautiful to look at, there are some charming moments, but it’s certainly minor Woody.

Critics make fun of Garry Marshall for doing the latest bad comedy about a holiday. Perhaps those critics should be tougher on Allen for doing the latest place in Europe.

I don’t feel I wasted my time watching it, but I was certainly disappointed.

It gets 2 stars out of 5.

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