Thought that call-girls and Broadway went perfect together.
Izzy (Imogen Poots) is a middle-class call-girl who dreams of, hopefully, making it big one day. And living in the Big Apple, that definitely seems like a possibility, as far-fetched as it may originally seem. But the opportunity presents itself even clearer once Izzy meets Broadway director Arnold Albertson (Owen Wilson), on what some may refer to as “a date”. Arnold instantly falls for Izzy, but knows that it cannot go any further due to the fact that he’s currently married to the talented and passionate Delta (Kathryn Hahn). With Arnold’s latest play coming up, it’s around that time where casting decisions are made, people get together, and everything has to come into play to ensure that all else goes smoothly with this one production. However, when Izzy comes into a casting-call for Arnold’s play, everything goes South, real quick. Soon, the co-writer of the play (Will Forte) falls for Izzy, even though he’s with Jane (Jennifer Aniston), which makes Arnold quite jealous. This then leads to a lot of neglect on his part of his wife, who then begins to crush a bit heavily on Seth (Rhys Ifans) – someone Arnold already feuds with enough as is.
After nearly a decade away from doing whatever the hell he felt like doing, Peter Bogdanovich is finally back to making narrative-films once again and this time, it sort of makes me wonder just why he came back at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to have such a legendary talent like Bogdanovich still around, making movies and using his input to hopefully remind those of his influence back in the 70’s, but if he’s going to be doing all of that with She’s Funny That Way, then honestly, I think I’m fine with him staying away a little while longer.
Sounds harsh, I know, but come on!
One of the main problems early on is that Bogdanovich seems to be going for something of a retro, screwball comedy aspect that’s reminiscent of those sorts of films from the 20’s and so on and so forth, but it never quite gels together well. It’s fine to use that brand of humor, find a way to place it in a modern-setting, and see how it all works out, but Bogdanovich leaves a little too much of that up to chance. Rather than actually finding a way to make his homage work better as a modern-day comedy, it feels more like a tribute that never makes it relevancy known; almost as if Bogdanovich himself just wanted to make this so he could show the world that he too loves these sorts of classic films.
And this is all to state the fact that the screenplay, co-written by both Bogdanovich and ex-wife Louise Stratten, is a mess; it’s an unfunny one, for sure, but it’s also one that can never make up its own mind. For one, it treats each and everyone of its characters like little jokes written out on a cue-card, so that we can all wait for the punch-line to drop. Once the punch-line does in fact, drop, the movie then decides it’s time to make us feel sorry and sad for these poor souls of characters, if only as a way to make up for the fact that it couldn’t help but be pointing the finger at them for the past hour-and-a-half. This all happens, coincidentally, around the same time that it’s about time to wrap everything all up, which makes the final-product itself, rushed, and above all else, strung-together by tape.
Which, in case you didn’t get my meaning, is saying that it’s not good.
This is all the more disappointing considering the fact that the cast seems able and ready to service whatever Bogdanovich has them all do, but they never get compensated for it. Surely, they made plenty of cash-money off of this movie, but what good is it when you have the one chance of a lifetime to work with a silver-screen legend like Bogdanovich, and you’re left with nothing more than jokes about sex, therapists, and Broadway. None of which are actually funny, nor insightful, but seem to come so swiftly that they must have to be jokes nonetheless, regardless of if they’re actually effective.
Owen Wilson, despite seeming like a perfect fit for Arnold, really seems to be sleep-walking his way through his time here. This, I understand, would have been very unsurprising had this movie came out a little over a year ago, but in the past year or so, we’ve gotten a chance to see Wilson stretch his wings out a little more like he once did back in the early days with films like Inherent Vice, the Grand Budapest Hotel, and even Midnight in Paris, highlighting certain strengths that he can play to, if given the opportunity to do so. But that doesn’t happen here and it’s only a shame since Wilson can work well with this sort of material, regardless of if it actually sucks or not.
Then, there’s Imogen Poots who has to put on a Brooklyn-accent of sorts and despite doing well with it, never really makes sense as the main protagonist. In a see of wild and crazy characters, she gets lost in the fray and makes it understandable as to why Brie Larson left it in the first place. Hahn shows up as Arnold’s wife and seems like she’s down to play, but honestly, the writing just isn’t there for her. It’s uninteresting enough as is and it’s a shame because we know that Hahn can do so much better, no matter what it is that you throw at her.
Hell, look at Happyish!
And of course, there’s the likes of Rhys Ifans and Will Forte who show up, do their thing, collect the paycheck and then leave, but in all honesty, they aren’t worth talking about here. The real one is Jennifer Aniston as Jane, the therapist who is constantly pissed-off and tired of everyone around her’s bullshit. Though we’ve seen Aniston play against type in both of the Horrible Bosses movies, here, she really gets a chance to let loose on her comedic-timing and it shows that, while some may not want to look at her in an anti-Rachel light, they may have to get used to it. Because if the rom-com roles begin to dry-up anytime soon, then we know that for certain, given the chance to do so, Aniston can change her act up and while not being as lovely as before, can still make people laugh and want to see more of her.
Consensus: Despite the key talent both in front of, as well as behind the camera, She’s Funny That Way still never comes together as a funny, nor interesting homage to the lovely screwball films of yesteryear, despite clearly seeming to aim for that target.
3 / 10