Directed by Woody Allen, starring Jason Biggs, Woody Allen, Christina Ricci, Danny DeVito and Stockard Channing.
Woody Allen's latest comedy is a subtle, sophisticated and intelligent take on a relationship going nowhere. 'Anything Else' features memorable characters and witty dialogue, but its good parts are overshadowed by a lack of emotion and an inability to engage its audience.
Jerry Falk (Biggs) is a comedy writer and aspiring novelist living in Manhattan with his girlfriend Amanda (Ricci) and attending regular sessions with his analyst. His inability to exert his influence over his life sees him being taken for a ride by his manager (DeVito), and taken for granted by Amanda. A chance meeting with a would-be writer, David Dobel (Allen), inevitably leads him on a journey of discovery and self-assertion. Dobel's quirky personality, combined with his pearls of wisdom, infuriate but ultimately enlighten young Falk, with predictable consequences.
Jason Biggs (of the 'American Pie' franchise) successfully makes the transition to more serious roles as the intelligent yet gullible Falk, whom you can't help but wish would take control instead of analysing everything. Ricci's self-absorbed, unwilling to commit Amanda is the most memorable, but also the most infuriating character. Equally unbearable is that Allen chooses to imbue her with all that is negative about women. Allen as the paranoid mentor - that ultimately comes across as Allen playing Allen - is a far more believable, and successful, role for him than that of love interest.
Allen's understated style and subtle humour have found favour with audiences who appreciate his witty intelligence and identify with the cynicism and paranoid anxieties that he creates in his characters. Unfortunately 'Anything Else' is all intellectualism and no emotion, which doesn't dispose the viewer to identify with and enjoy it. In fact, it's difficult to sit through it without feeling that your time would be better - and more enjoyably - spent watching anything else...but this.