Woody Allen got me, and millions of others, back into his fold with “Midnight In Paris” but he has kicked me to the curb again with “To Rome With Love”. This type of travelogue was made, and much better, by 20th Century Fox and M-G-M in the 1950s and 1960s and they added hit songs with a prime example being “Three Coins in a Fountain” also taking place in Rome with multiple stories.
Allen tries all styles of comedy from slapstick, to farce and sarcasm, double entendres, mixed identities and they all fall flat. Does an opera singer (Fabio Armiliato) who can only sing in the shower being put on stage in a shower make you laugh? Does the paparazzi running after someone (Roberto Benigni) who is famous for being famous make you smile? How about mispronouncing your daughter’s fiancee’s name? Or having a prostitute (Penelope Cruz) mistaken for being your (Alessandro Tiberian) wife (Alessandra Mastronardi)? Will you roll on the floor laughing as a man (Alec Baldwin) can see himself as he was 30 years ago or is it 30 years in the future? Is he real? Does it really matter? Now let’s not forget the guy (Jesse Eisenberg–who could be or not be the younger Baldwin) who gets played by his girlfriend’s (Greta Gerwig) friend (Ellen Page) or is she, the latter, just the actress she claims to be and doesn’t provide one laugh between the 3 of them.
The standouts in the acting department are Alec Baldwin and Penelope Cruz, with the latter looking HOT in her tight, short, cut down to here, red dress. Judy Davis is wasted as a straight (wo)man for Allen’s jokes while of the young ones in the cast not even Ellen Page makes an impression as she usually does.
Allen is all over the place in this film, with his directing and writing, attempting to be funny and failing except with his character which he has been playing for over 50 years. At 77, Allen has written over 64 pictures and directed 45 plus doing plays and he doesn’t hit them all out of the box, this being one that strikes out.
The only reason to see this film is if you haven’t been to Rome in years or want to see how/if it has changed since “Three Coins in a Fountain”.