Melinda and Melinda Reviews
This is a really fun premise, and it's done pretty well. To really make things lively, the two stories are told intertwiningly, instead of one after the other, as a result, the movie as a whole is a giant ball of comedy and drama, but I'm not gonna say how it all ends, since that would spoil the fun. I'll just go ahead and say though, that the film does conclude in maybe the most appropriate way possible. Heck, you might even be able to figure it out just by the premise alone.
I won't say which of the stories about Melinda is the better one, or the preferred one, since I just can't do it. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, offer up some universal truths, and have some good stuff going on. No, the film isn't perfect, and it does move kinda slow, and a lot of this is just more of Allen being Allen instead of truly branching out and doing something groundbreaking. However, even when he rehashes, it's a joy because he's just a great kind of artist whom you don't mind listening to every time he talks, even if he's repeating the same stuff over and over.
The cast is populated with lots of names, from Radha Mitchell playing both sides of Melinda, Will Ferrell as the Allen surrogate, Wallace Shawn as one of the storytellers, and Chiwetel Ejiofor playing the only real character who actually seems fleshed out instead of just being a caricature or sketch of a real person.
The performances are pretty good though, even if Ferrell doesn't quite make the role his own and Sevigny and Peet try hard but still sorta seem to struggle. Ejiofor and Mitchell are the best (hands down), but like I said, even though not everyone is great, no one really sucks here.
I kinda wished for something that didn't seem to be very plodding or rather directionless at times, but I won't that this was boring or a waste of time. It's not completely satisfying, but it works pretty well as a side dish as opposed to a full meal, ie: watch it along with some other stuff instead of making it the highlight of a movie night.
1. Wally Shawn can do anything.
2. Will Ferrell must not be allowed to do any more movies until he submits to some acting lessons. It's like he's always playing some version of that cheerleader character from SNL.
The general opinion about Melinda & Melinda is pretty mixed. I fully expected this to be one of Allen's weaker movies, but I ended up enjoying the heck out of it. I don't know if my enjoyment was because of my recent infatuation with Radha Mitchell, or if the movie really was just that good. Whatever the reason, I'm convinced that this movie is sorely underrated.†
A group of friends sits at a table at a restaurant, and listens to two versions of a story; one comic, and the other tragic. The stories are both played out with completely different actors; save for the character of Melinda (played by Radha Mitchell), who arrives unexpectedly in the middle of a dinner party in both stories. I know that may sound a little confusing, in a movie that questions whether the essence of life is comic or tragic, it works well.
Three complaints: some of the humor was hit-and-miss, the script was a little too unfocused to communicate the themes of comedy and tragedy in a way that presented a totally focused point, and Ferrell didn't have a perfect handle on the "Woody Allen role" (though I can't really think of who could have done it better). †Those are the only less-than-favorable comments that I have to make. I thought the film as a whole was a combination of a great cast and smart writing, and those are the main things I look for in anything Allen directs.†
This is a traditional Woody Allen movie. More Annie Hall than Match Point. Which means it's very verbose, quirky, focused on a specific type of people that you only find in the New York City that exists in Woody's mind, and it has his trademark humor. I would hesitate to recommend this to an Allen novice, but if you know what you're getting into and you "get it", then you might enjoy Melinda & Melinda as much as I did.
DIRECTED BY: Woody Allen
I got a couple good reviews on the film saying how good it was, so I thought I would give it a watch. But unfortunately I didn't have the same experience. I found it quite boring and very blah. I couldn't get into it. I found myself struggling just to finish it. It's one of those movies when you go "FINALLY" when it's over. This is only my opinion. Other people have enjoyed this film. I am just not in that category. So I say since there are some who loved it and went as far as giving it five stars, give it a try. You may like it.. ??
[font=Century Gothic]In the tragedy version, the dinner party is being held by an old friend of hers, Laurel(Chloe Sevigny), and her husband, Lee(Jonny Lee Miller), an actor who is hoping to land the lead in a new play.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]In the comedy version, Melinda is a downstairs neighbor who interrupts the dinner party being held by Susan(Amanda Peet, miscast as a film director) and Hobie(Will Ferrell, who does a better Woody Allen impression than Kenneth Branagh) after ingesting a large amount of sleeping pills. Susan is hoping to get financing to direct her second feature while Hobie is a struggling actor with a thing for playing every part with a limp.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Melinda and Melinda" is a grand idea for a movie but it fails in its execution. There is little difference between the two versions because Woody Allen's style permeates both to the core.(And saying that there is both comedy and tragedy in life does seem a rather obvious statement.) Overall, the only reason for the movie to exist is as an acting showcase for Radha Mitchell who is amazing.[/font]
Uncharacteristically, I am more taken with Woody's drama tale this time, with Radha Mitchell in excellent form as a deeply troubled former Park Avenue society wife now trying to get her anxiety-riddled life back on track. On the lighter half, Will Farrell comes off as a rather feeble Woody Allen substitute, filled with the same neuroses and stammerings that defined the director's onscreen image. But then Woody could not fill that role at the age of 70 in this context, so he was wise to seek another actor but the casting just didn't work. There are other problems with casting in one of Woody's lightest-weighted ensembles.
There are still some good laughs from a few sharp lines and some heart-tugging developments. Am very glad I watched it and worth a look particularly for Radha Mitchell's efforts in a double role, but there are many Woody films that you need to watch more urgently.