The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Melinda and Melinda

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Judy Thorburn

Melnda And Melinda

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“MELINDA AND MELINDA” – WOODY ALLEN DELIVERS A TWO FOR ONE FLICK

Woody Allen’s new movie is an exploration of the human experience, especially with regards to interactions between the sexes where love, betrayal and angst are concerned; elements prevalent in many of his films. But, in Melinda and Melinda the subject matter plays out from two parallel angles giving the audience a two for one show, if you will.

It starts with a group of intellectual types (typical to most Allen films) having a discussion about life while dining in a Manhattan restaurant. The subject turns into debate when two playwrights, Sy (Wallace Shawn) and Max (Larry Pine) differ on whether life is construed as a tragedy or a comedy. To illustrate each of their viewpoints Sy and Max concoct contrasting scenarios featuring one central character named Melinda with Max’s story leaning towards tragic and Sy’s being comic.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Lorraine Pompeo, Diana Dillon, Suzanne Paul

Beautiful Australian actress Radha Mitchell (Johnny Depp’s estranged wife in Finding Neverland) is the focal character bringing a mixture of vulnerability, passion and complexity to her dual role of two Melindas. We meet Mitchell as the curly haired Melinda in the tragic tale when she shows up unexpectedly, at the home of old friend, Park Avenue shop and lunch princess Laurel (Chloe Sevigny) and her adulterous, out of work actor husband Lee (Jonny Lee Miller) during a dinner party attended by another college chum, a very pregnant Cassie (Brooke Smith).  Here Melinda is a chain smoking, pill popping, drinker whose life has been on a downward spiral. As a result of cheating on her husband, she’s lost custody of her kids, attempted suicide and spent time in a mental ward.  Laurel and Lee, feeling sorry for Melinda, take her in and plan another party in order to set Melinda up with a dentist friend of Cassie.  Instead, Melinda falls for the party’s black jazz pianist; Ellis (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dirty Pretty Things), which appears to make Melinda happy.  But, that doesn’t last for long when Melinda gets dumped for her best friend Laurel.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Lorraine Pompeo, Diana Dillon, Suzanne Paul

In the comic synopsis, a smooth bobbed Melinda is the single downstairs neighbor of unemployed struggling actor, Hobie (Will Ferrell) and his independent filmmaker wife, Susan (Amanda Peet). Susan and Hobie are (like in the darker version) having a dinner party, when suddenly the doorbell rings and Amanda bursts in saying she has swallowed twenty-eight pills. Before too long Hobie, being in a strained marriage, finds himself falling in love with Melinda, although the feelings don’t appear mutual.  However, after Hobie walks in on his wife in bed with another man he decides to tell Amanda how he feels. He invites Melinda out to dinner and before he is able to say anything Melinda tells him she met and fell for a gorgeous (black) man (Daniel Sunjata) while playing a piano that was sitting on the street.  Hobie, now broken hearted, gets set up with a conservative, right wing, but very hot playboy centerfold who unleashes her own sad story onto Hobie about being dumped for her best friend.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Lorraine Pompeo, Diana Dillon, Suzanne Paul

Rather than present two separate and complete stories one after another writer Allen gives two contrasting storylines that switch back and forth occasionally returning to the storytellers. While this is an interesting technique, the stories tend to be confusing if you don’t pay close attention.  Although both versions contain apparent similarities such as rocky marriages, adultery and heartbreak, Allen has failed to create a marked difference in tone.  That fault does not rest on the actors. They are all excellent. But, neither stories fit the bill of either so-called “tragedy” or “comedy”.  Suffice to say, the “funny” version isn’t really that funny relying strictly on Will Farrell as Woody Allen’s sweet, insecure, neurotic alter ego, Hobie to supply the humorous moments, of which he does an admirable, noteworthy job.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Lorraine Pompeo, Diana Dillon, Suzanne Paul

Melinda and Melinda isn’t one of Woody Allen’s best films.  But, after his last few duds (Anything Else, for one) at least he is back on track trying to impress us with his masterful, adult themed, filmmaking capabilities.  I just think sometimes it’s hard for the average audience to relate to sophisticated rich New Yorkers who live in expensive apartments or lofts in upscale trendy neighborhoods. They seem to have it all but are nevertheless, angst ridden.  I suppose its true that money doesn’t buy happiness.

Back to the opposing notions on whether life is merely played out as a tragedy or a comedy. Based on Woody’s scenarios there isn’t a marked difference.  This might have been his point, but it didn’t work for me.   But, that’s just the way I see it.