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New Release Review - SHE'S FUNNY THAT WAY

A large group of characters become entangled in a screwball comedy scenario.


Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich

Starring: Imogen Poots, Jennifer Aniston, Quentin Tarantino, Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans, Lucy Punch, Debi Mazar, Jennifer Esposito, Tatum O'Neal, Cybill Sheperd, Colleen Camp, Illeana Douglas, Joanna Lumley, Richard Lewis




"You can count the number of worthwhile post-1940s screwball comedies on the fingers of one hand, and still have a digit left over to flip this one the bird."



She's Funny That Way. Well actually she's not. Not remotely. I didn't laugh once during this truly terrible ensemble farce. Not so much as a minor chuckle. Even the worst, lowest common denominator gross-out comedies have been known to illicit the odd guilty guffaw from me. But She's Funny That Way, with its excellently assembled cast, completely failed to move me, at least in any positive sense.
Under the stewardship of veteran filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, the whole affair comes off as a vanity project, a bunch of friends playing out a joke nobody else is in on. Everyone involved seems to be having a whale of a time - Bogdanovich gets to riff on some of his favourite movies while his cast get to play dress up - but for the audience it's like being the only sober guest at a particularly annoying party.
There's no real plot to speak of. Imogen Poots plays one of those happy Hollywood hookers, and her bedding of Owen Wilson's director sets off the film's hijinks, or in this case, low-jinks. Instead of keeping the story intimate and focussing on the central players, Bogdanovich introduces a ludicrous amount of characters, meaning most of the performers are wasted in parts that amount to nothing. The female cast is particularly ill served, with talented comediennes like Kathryn Hahn, Jennifer Aniston and Lucy Punch given the least interesting roles. In the lead role, Poots is simply awful, struggling with the most unconvincing New York accent you'll hear outside of a Glaswegian production of West Side Story.
The males are insanely miscast too. Bogdanovich seems to think Rhys Ifans and Will Forte are Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum, casting the pair as irresistible stud-muffins. One scene has Ifans crowded by hordes of adoring teenage girls. Rhys Ifans??? Poots ideal man is revealed to be Quentin Tarantino, playing himself! A judge played by 75-year-old Austin Pendleton asks Jennifer Aniston's character on a date, and she accepts!
For a movie that's meant to be lightweight and humorous, She's Funny That Way serves as an unintentionally creepy insight into the misogyny of the entertainment business. With so many decrepit old duffers bedding hot young girls, it plays out like it was scripted by Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris. At times I felt I was watching a musical adaptation of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, but the tunes never kicked in.
But that's the least of the film's problems - it's simply not funny. The screwball comedy died out in big screen form a long time ago, and while sitcoms like Cheers and Fawlty Towers have managed to appropriate the format successfully to TV, you can count the number of worthwhile post-1940s screwball comedies on the fingers of one hand, and still have a digit left over to flip this one the bird.




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