This latest Woody Allen misfire features Jason Biggs in the lead role of a neurotic joke writer and Christina Ricci as his oddball girlfriend. Their rocky relationship from beginning to end is chronicled with all the newness of an REO Speedwagon song.
Allen has mined this same set up for many movies before, but the similarities between “Anything Else” and his best-known movie, 1977’s “Annie Hall,” are too many. This new movie literally feels like it is 25 years old, like some Allen wannabee might have scraped this together on the heels of “Hall“‘s success.
Maybe somebody who has never seen a Woody Allen movie would feel differently than me. I was prepared for, and was willing to forgive, Biggs doing his best Allen impersonation. What I wasn’t prepared for was how forced and trite it all seemed coming out of Biggs’ mouth. Somehow Woody is able to make selfish nebbish-ness funny, but it isn’t working well for Biggs in “Anything Else.”
Am I really supposed to believe that Biggs and Ricci’s characters would debate the merits of listening to Billie Holiday on 78 vinyl records over CDs? It’s a quaint and silly notion to think these young people as old-fashioned as Allen that they embrace no part of modern culture whatsoever.
As far as the dialogue goes, however, “Anything Else” is still wittier than 80 percent of all comedies out there today. It’s not a young romance story all wrapped up in a bundle of hot new hit singles and shallow sappiness. And it doesn’t look like a TV commercial starring the next-big-thing hot model/actor.
Instead, it’s like a stale cracker that doesn’t taste too terrible, as long as you were really hungry anyway.