Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why the Young Woody Allen Should Have Had Himself Cloned

Granted, I only went to see Midnight in Paris to sit in a place that had air-conditioning, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have minded enjoying the movie as well. Or, to be perfectly honest, staying awake the whole time it was on. I kept passing out and then snapping back. Usually, when this kind of thing happens, you have to ask the person you came with to catch you up on the plot. Malheureusement, I came with no one. Heureusement, this didn’t matter because the movie, though gorgeous, was, zut alors!, plotless.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go see it. If you’ve just come back from your first trip to Europe which you took right after you got out of college with a degree in English under your belt, you should go and see it this very minute. But only if you did all this in 1972, and even then, only if it’s still 1972.  Which would mean Woody would be playing Gil Pender, while Owen Wilson would still be at home about to turn four.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like Owen Wilson, and not only for his nose and depression. He has, as they say in the cesspool called Hollywood, the all important “shtuppability factor.” That’s why he got to play Jennifer Aniston’s husband in Marley & Me. The director was confident that the audience would completely accept that Aniston was happy to shtup him. This qualifies Wilson as “sexy” and thus completely unsuited to play Woody Allen. Especially the young Woody Allen whose humor was based on his being a nebbish. However often he might break his own nose, Wilson is still too tall, blond, and officially “sexy” to play a true nebbish, by which I mean an undersized, homely, redheaded Jew who wears giant glasses, fears the whole world (i.e. the goyim), is already balding, and never gets laid.

The role of Gil Pender was meant to be played by that young Woody Allen, who, of course, no longer exists. But since the film works on a time-travel premise, let us pretend that he does.

With the young Woody Allen playing Gil Pender, I would have bought a sensitive screenwriter wanting to marry a bitch like Inez because Gil would then be a self-loathing Jew, eager to live out a life of pure torture if it means he gets to shtup Rachel McAdams.

And Inez’s parents would have had a reason to be so Unrelentingly Horrid, the reason being that Gil would have to explain to us just how Californian their Horridness was, the way he explained just how Midwestern the Hall Horridness was even while dining with Annie Hall’s family--in a scene so memorable we still, well, remember it.

And imagine Young Woody meeting up with Hemingway, Picasso, and the rest of the luminaries. Imagine how, even as he romanticized them, he would have upset Fitzgerald’s eternal Gin Rickey, and, when challenged to an arm wrestling match, allowed Hemingway to shatter his ulna. As for the women, he might well have passed on the pretty abuse-a-muse and gone for drunk Zelda, or, better yet, Stein.
Plus he would have asked every one of them if they'd heard about a new up-and-comer named Hitler.

If the moral of the film is that we shouldn’t long for a rose-colored past but live right now as we are in the present, let me just say I did not get that message. Maybe it’s because I kept falling asleep, but I think it’s mostly because I know that the past was better than now because Woody Allen was still able to play himself--his paranoid, nebbishy, razor-sharp self--in his own movies.

(And also, no kidding, because I was young.)


  1. I saw the movie last weekend, and, while I enjoyed it, I did think that it was not so much a movie as a short story... in fact, it is a kinder, gentler version of The Kugelmass Episode.
    Gil is quite likely to have never noticed how awful Inez was, since her perfect shallowness would come across as normal in Hollywood...

  2. I absolutely cannot abide the "Woody Allen" shtick any more. It was somewhat amusing when I was younger, but it's all worn off.

    I did enjoy meeting all those famous culture folks, though. There seems to be something in the Bay Area zeitgeist, what with this movie, the Steins Collect at MOMA, and Picasso at the deYoung.

  3. Oh no, I think the moral of the film is Dream On, cause no one can do it for you. And, you know, if I were Woody Allen looking for someone to play the young me, I wouldn't choose Mike Myers.

  4. Bad review. Sounds like narcolepsy. Get checked out. Ever been to Paris?