Quiet in San Fran11 May 2008
2003, United States
director: Woody Allen

American Splendor showed us how Harvey Pekar projects and replicates his neurotic image, but I suppose Woody Allen has been doing that for at least a decade, ever since he's gotten too old to play the part of the young romantic for even the most generous of audiences and hired other actors to step into his shoes. The only other option would be to make a different kind of movie. Jason Biggs is nominally the Young Woody in this movie, but he's not the only one who effects Allen's cadence and aesthetic. Biggs is constantly and increasingly exasperated, except when he gets to unwind with his friends who talk about Humphrey Bogart, Cole Porter, their therapists, and their failed marriages. Kids these days. These 21-year-old Allen clones give the movie an awkward, pinball rhythm when they're put together in the same room, often next to Allen himself, talking past each other with their stuttering comic timing, like a physics experiment about the conservation of nervous energy. Danny DeVito and Stockard Channing smooth the edges a little when they appear, but the movie is never quite funny enough to be so unbelievable. Christina Ricci alternates between lounging in a sheer t-shirt and panties in one scene and tucking the sheets up under her arms in the next, which I guess makes about as much sense as anything else these characters do. While the movie does have a few chuckles, it also feels like a familiar shrug, right down to the uninspired title.

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