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Juno Temple Wonder Wheel.jpg

Review Roundup: Woody Allen's Latest Is A Creepy Piece of Sh*t? We're Shocked!

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | December 1, 2017 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | December 1, 2017 |

We’re a hard working bunch of folks here at Team Pajiba, keeping you up to date with Trump fuckery, celeb shenanigans, achingly personal essays, news on the latest men who suck, and of course, all the sexiness that’s fit to moisten your lions. That means, sometimes, we just don’t have enough time to cover every issue we want to. Also, there are some things we wouldn’t force on anyone, as much as TK would probably enjoy it. Fortunately, we’re all too nice a group to force anyone to subject themselves to the latest Woody Allen movie, Wonder Wheel. Call us old fashioned but some creepy old men could do without our hard work telling them they suck.

That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the wonderful writing done by our colleagues in the field. Indeed, we want to honour their sacrifice and have done a quick roundup of the most scathing reviews of Allen’s latest self-satisfied nostalgia fest that he probably wrote in 9 days and never re-drafted. The film is ostensibly about a miserable waitress trapped in an unhappy marriage whose affair with the token Allen stand-in (played by Justin Timberlake because of course) is threatened after he expresses interest in her step-daughter. Do you see where this is going? Because literally every other critic did too. Make sure you give these critics some much deserved clicks. Spoilers ahoy but honestly, do you really care?

Sam Adams (Slate):

Allen has constructed an entire world, including an elaborate replica of Coney Island’s boardwalk, for the purposes of once more indicting his former partner and exonerating himself. But the fact that he has to construct that world himself, and not only that, but to filter it through a thick layer of theatrical artifice, feels strangely like an admission. He’s not changing his story, but even its most careful presentation—and, to the extent it is possible to separate form from content, Wonder Wheel is a beautiful movie, elegantly designed and shot—still seems like a hollow, trumped-up fraud.

Manohla Dargis (New York Times):

At one point, after Ginny has turned into Blanche DuBois, she announces, “When it comes to love we often turn out to be our own worst enemy.” And not for the first time you wonder what Mr. Allen, who has long blurred fact and fiction, thinks he’s doing here. He couldn’t have anticipated that his name would be in the news because of the allegations of sexual abuse upending the entertainment industry. Yet how could we not think of him… Critics have often uneasily ignored his history, but he himself seems perversely intent on invoking it.

Kenneth Turan (L.A. Times):

“Oh, God, spare me the bad drama,” a character in Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel” implores. Would that we could be so fortunate… Getting audiences to respond enthusiastically to uninspired plotting and tepid lines like “I’ve become consumed with jealousy” and “the bad blood between us runs too deep” is likely a bridge too far… And though they are ultimately prisoners of Allen’s script, “Wonder Wheel’s” actors try their hardest in a losing cause. This is especially true of star Kate Winslet, valiantly throwing herself into her performance as if her lines were real gems instead of cubic zirconium.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly):

There’s an old saying: It’s nice to take a stroll down memory lane, but you wouldn’t want to buy a house there. At 82, Woody Allen has become memory lane’s most famous homeowner.

Alissa Wilkinson (Vox):

It’s always dangerous to assume a movie is actually about its creator. But in some cases it’s merited, especially when the filmmaker has taken pains throughout his career to invite the comparison… Mickey is stuck on himself, seemingly trying to simultaneously be the hero and writer of two dramas, one Greek, one O’Neill, but both set in a heightened version of rough-and-tumble Coney Island. Everyone else serves his whims, and the people around him are diminished as a result, turned into stock characters to stroke his own ego — which makes for bad drama and bad living alike.

A.A. Dowd (AV Club):

What the hell is anyone to make of Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel, in which a self-proclaimed romantic entertains leaving his lover for her much younger stepdaughter? Separating the man from the art is always difficult when it comes to the legendary New York neurotic of American moviemaking, whose personal life remains an enduring source of controversy and scrutiny, both for the sexual abuse allegation that’s hung over it since the early ’90s and for the fact that, yes, he married his ex-girlfriend’s adopted daughter. But Allen, who still operates at the clockwork clip of one or two movies a year, doesn’t make it any easier to approach his work on its own terms; he possesses what may be a pathological need to throw a spotlight over his own experiences, relationships, and hangups. Even by those standards, Wonder Wheel is uncomfortably revealing, its real-life parallels too blatant to be anything but intentional. But to what end?

Alan Scherstuhl (Village Voice):

Here’s a Woody Allen movie about a “moody” and “crazy” washed-up redheaded actress furious that her lover has jilted her for her kinda-sorta daughter. The redhead does something unconscionable to punish the couple and then has to find a way to live with it. Meanwhile, her much younger son, a creature of aimless rage, lights fire after fire around the Coney Island boardwalk, the place where Allen’s most beloved character — Annie Hall’s Alvy Singer — grew up. The little pyro is happy to watch the world he’s inherited burn. In Allen’s mind, is the kid Ronan Farrow?

Current Rotten Tomatoes rating: 41%.

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Kayleigh is a features writer for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter or listen to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.