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The Incontinental

By Brian Prisco | Film | October 7, 2010 |

By Brian Prisco | Film | October 7, 2010 |

A New York Jew does not a British colonial make. Woody Allen seems to be going through the motions in his old age. If he’s trying to make films for his peer group — and by that I mean elderly folks who politely titter at the jokes scattered like bread crusts at a duck pond — then by Jove, he’s hit his mark. But if he’s not trying to make flicks for the sub-AARP crew, he’s failing. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger feels less like a coherent plot than an extended trailer for a really poor comedy of errors. Essentially, we watch four different relationships fall apart and destroy the relationships around them in a structure built as flimsily as an Angry Birds level. Allen’s narration is usually one of the most forgivable parts of his films, but in this flick, it’s such a cement patch for what feels like an unfinished effort. The acting is kind of embarrassing, especially considering the names involved, and the dialogue is noticeably atrocious. It’s kind of like the “Jersey Shore” hosebeasts doing The Importance of Being Earnest. You almost wish Soon Yi had fucked Woody to death so he could at least have gone with a bang and not a Viagra joke.

Anthony Hopkins does a terrible Woody Allen impression as Alfie, an elderly man who leaves his wife because Woody Allen still has a few more mid-life crisis jokes to make. He ends up in a relationship with a prostitute (Lucy Punch), who he marries even though she looks like Hedwig from the neck up and the penis down. His wife Helena (Gemma Jones) felt she lost him because she was too honest with him, and not because she’s a blunt and nosy naggard. She ends up getting lured in by a belief in the paranormal, hence the psychic-based flim-flam title. She starts courting a local New Age bookseller, Jonathan (Roger Ashton-Griffiths), who still harbors a love for his deceased wife. Helena and Alfie have a daughter Sally (Naomi Watts), an art gallery assistant who’s married to a failing American novelist Roy (Josh Brolin), who’s struggling to pen his second novel. Of course, they aren’t happy and are looking for a little exotic takeaway, with Naomi crushing on her exotic boss Greg (Antonio Banderas) and Roy pining for the musician in red across the way Dia (Frieda Pinto). Sure, Greg’s married, and he’s also apparently banging Sally’s artist friend, and Dia’s engaged, but who cares, this is about what you want NOW, not about repercussions or any of that committed relationship hoo-hah.

If that’s not confusing enough, there’s at least four or five additional subplots. Sally’s trying to open her own gallery, Roy tries to steal his dead friend’s novel, Alfie’s trying to catch his hooker in the hitch, and Helena’s supporting both Sally and Roy. For as much shit that’s going on in the story, the entire thing feels really slapdash and piecemeal. It bounds from moment to moment at a bizarre scattered pace, like a drunk learning to drive stick in a bumper car. Months and weeks blast forward, and they don’t spend any time really developing any of the relationships. Shit happens is a T-shirt slogan, not the way you should arc your screenplay. And Woody Allen should fucking know better. And Josh Brolin should only ever play vaguely seedy Texas flavored badasses.

Woody Allen’s been trading on his good name for the past two decades, with a really shameful record. He completely wastes his cast here. Granted, aside from Josh Brolin, nobody’s really been lighting up the silver screen as of late, but still, with this caliber of actor, Allen should be killing this. I don’t understand this overwhelming Eurocentric thing he’s been rocking as of late. It’s funny, because the last thing he wrote that I somewhat enjoyed was a leftover set in New York. At least he’s moved off his ScarJo obsession and the terrible fucking dramas. Yet, Allen seems hellbent on making his legacy that all conventional love is fucking bullshit and we should basically just fuck around until we die — which makes sense then that he’d set everything in Europe. Only Europeans can pull off infidelity as charming.