Peter Bogdanovich’s (What’s Up, Doc?) She’s Funny That Way attempts to throwback to great rom-com’s of the past, with strong hints of Woody Allen, but is filled with too much chaos and not many laughs.
Set in New York, the film follows a Broadway cast and crew, and their problematic personal lives as their play begins to imitate real life. When the director, Arnold (Owen Wilson), hires former call-girl-turned-actress, Izzy (Imogen Poots), to play alongside his leading-lady wife (Kathryn Hahn), the escort’s duel lives begin to intersect for the worst.
A rough interview between Izzy and an entertainment reporter (Illena Douglas) frames the narrative but doesn’t do much more than to add some unnecessary context. The characters intersect in and out of each other’s lives in a tangled web of romance and betrayal, and yet there never seems to be any weight to consequences. Perhaps as a result of having so many characters in play, or trying to give everyone a unique and eccentric personality, the plot attempts to wow with just how interwoven these lives become but still never rises beyond being anecdotal at best. Because of this, the film then continuously acts like it is much smarter than it actually is.
Poots gives a notably charming performance although her attempt to perfect a New Yorkian accent seems somewhat overdone and comes at the cost of being more of a distraction at times then probably intended. Wilson seems to play just another version of himself while Hahn does well to try and add some depth to her otherwise shallow interactions. Rhy Ifans (The Amazing Spiderman) stars as the thespian Seth, and appears to at least have fun in the role, with Will Forte (The Lego Movie) showing up as the playwright, Joshua, with a purpose apparently only to further complicate matters. Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses) as a crazed therapist is the only one that seems to attempt to bring anything more to her role, but the screenplay ultimately let’s her down.
Somehow the cast never really seems to mesh as a whole, probably due to the miscasting of Wilson and Forte. Even when the entire cast is present on screen, it never feels like more than a group of actors standing around doing a bit. The film also has a cavalcade of cameo stars including: Cybil Sheppard (The Client List), Richard Lewis (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Debi Mazar (Lovelace), Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Tatum O’Neal (The Runaways), and Jennifer Esposito (Crash), but even their presence cannot do much to spark the film alive.
She’s Funny That Way never quite seems to reach the quirky and comedic heights that it so wishes to hit and, consequently, ends up as a pale imitation.
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