Bullets Over Broadway Reviews
In 1920s New York, a struggling playwright is forced to cast a mobster's talentless girlfriend in his latest drama in order to get it produced.
Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" deals with a struggling stage writer (John Cusack) who is so desperate to get one of his plays on Broadway in the 1920s that he reluctantly enlists the help of the local mafia crime lord to fund the play. Of course there is a large stipulation. The crime lord's girl must be in the play (hilariously played by Jennifer Tilly in an Oscar-nominated role). Needless to say she's terrible and Cusack struggles with her in the play. However, he has booked A-list actress Dianne Wiest (in her second Oscar-winning role) who is an alcoholic who has seen better days in her career.
Tilly's bodyguard (Chazz Palminteri, also in an Oscar-nominated role) sees the play rehearsed firsthand and gives Cusack some directions on the project that Cusack cannot refuse. Palminteri is street smart and knows how people really talk, while Cusack is so educated that his words make no sense to the normal audience. This film is what "The Godfather" would have been like if Allen had directed it. The screenplay is outstanding and Allen's direction has rarely been better. Cusack is fun and hilarious, but it is the supporting cast that makes the movie work. Other than the aforementioned Oscar-nominated actors, there are great turns by several others. Mary-Louise Parker, Tracy Ullman, Jim Broadbent, Jack Warden, Rob Reiner, Harvey Feinstein, and Joe Viterelli are all superb in well-calculated supporting roles.
On the bright side, the art direction and costume design are superb. Not a great Woody Allen flick, but his work in BOB is pretty decent.
Update: I love this movie. It's exceptionally well acted for a comedy, save a questionble John Cusack. But Jennifer Tilly, Chazz Palmiteri, and Dianne Weist (all three nominated in supporting categories) are a blast. Thinking more about it, it's actually really rare for a woman to win an Oscar for a broad, silly role without really aiming for humanity (Weist). And for that, I'm alloting it an extra half star. Also, the "Don't speak!" are some of my favorite scenes ever. I love that beezey, Dianne Weist.