Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

I really shouldn't admit this for fear of stones being thrown by various movie lovers, but I will be brave and just say it. I have a really hard time with Woody Allen movies. I usually like the clever dialogue and I usually like that Allen is making fun of himself in some way or other, but I have little patience for watching Woody Allen play the same character, himself, over and over on the screen.

Lenny (Woody Allen) and Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter) decide they should adopt a child. Well, really she decides and suddenly they are holding a baby boy named Max. The boy thrives in the intellectual environment and by the time he is of pre-school age he has been designated as extremely intelligent. Lenny and Amanda's marriage hits the rocks and Lenny starts fantasizing about the mother (Mira Sorvino) of his adopted son and tracks her down.

Even though I have a difficult time with Woody Allen movies, this one was one of the better ones I have seen. I loved the device of using the Greek Chorus between scenes to both draw parallels to Oedipus and contemporize it in a humorous way. That was a stroke of genius.

What I thought really didn't work very well was the pairing of Woody Allen and Helena Bonham Carter. He was 60 and she was 29. That may have been overcome if either showed the remotest amount of interest in the other. I think it is an understatement to say there was zero chemistry. From the beginning of the movie I was puzzled how they ever got together and how they could really be in love.

My other issue was that the character Mira Sorvino played grated on my nerves. Her voice and her vapidness (is that a word?) made me want to fast-forward through every scene she was in. After hearing so much about her performance due to her winning the best supporting actress Oscar in 1996, I have to say that I don't see it as an Oscar-worthy performance. She is good as the dumb blond and I know that she isn't that way in real-life, but really, does that make it Oscar worthy?

However, even though everything doesn't seem to fit together perfectly in this, I still say it is a terribly funny movie. I particularly loved Olympia Dukakis as Jocasta and Jack Warden as Tiresias as part of the Greek Chorus. The Greek Chorus manages to both lift up the sophistication level while at the same time showing the movie isn't trying to take itself too seriously. That alone made this film brilliant. I recommend this one for the humor, the Greek Chorus and perhaps the line "I'm sure that you're a state-of-the-art fellatrix." Can't beat that.


Juliette. said...

I think this is one of my favorite Woody Allen movies, actually. (Which I guess makes me officially banned from the Woody Allen Film Appreciation Society)You're right about Helena and him though-- as a couple breaking up they're totally believable, but as one being together in the first place? Uh, no.

Thanks for your take on this one-- very interesting to read. Haha, and vapidness isn't a word-- but it so should be. ;)

kda0121 said...

I like this one quite a bit. I'm still a holdout for Allen's early zany movies, but as far as his later work goes, this one is very entertaining. Mira Sorvino is excellent.

AbbyNormal said...

Karl - I think the male species is able to enjoy these types of performances more than the women species, perhaps. :-)