Deconstructing Harry Reviews
Overall, it's a substandard effort on behalf of Woody Allen.
Deconstructing Harry is a scattered story which has a lot of potential but turns itself into a series of unsuccessful comedic sketches. While Deconstructing Harry could have been the complicated psychological exploration of its titular character like it wanted to be, instead it degrades itself to a cluster of barely jointed story dynamics which jump from one to the next without ever really settling or giving time for viewers to take in what is happening. It just rushes through everything at a very fast pace and attempts to cram so much in there, but there is little that actually has any effect or is worth remembering. The film isn't the deconstruction of the titular character Harry, it's a story if a stereotypical Woody Allen character put into the context of Charlie Sheen's life but played off like a light comedy. In actuality it's a pretty sadistic film, and not in a good way.
The nature of the story is dark, but it's too scared to really understand that and do anything with it. It doesn't respect its viewers enough to be a meaningful deconstruction of a character with complicated psychology, instead spending time wasting its talented ensemble cast on a lot of meaningless and poorly conceived sketches which are full of pointless characters and lame gags.
The script in Deconstructing Harry is memorable for nothing else if not for its excessive swearing. The script is packed with a lot of swearing which feels out of place and has an excessive nature to it. Any comedic success of the story isn't present in Deconstructing Harry. The only time I ever laughed the whole time was when I snickered at one Jewish joke towards the end. So the comedic efforts of Deconstructing Harry were unsuccessful with me.
Deconstructing Harry has nothing to teach viewers when it could have been positive from a psychological standpoint, but riding the lesser qualities of Woody Allen's writing talents. It had its moments, but it is of a sub par quality in the end and doesn't come close to equating with his more intelligent works. The script is neither refreshing nor funny, and considering that Woody Allen holds the world record for most Academy Award nominations for writing original screenplays with 16 nominations, 3 of which were wins it is a serious disappointment. Frankly, Woody Allen makes a lot of films. Some of them are good, others not so much. Deconstructing Harry is an example of one of the others. His direction doesn't make it any better.
Frankly, the only qualities that Deconstructing Harry can rest on which succeed is the cast, with the exception of Woody Allen whose lead performance is once again very routine and has gotten to the point where it's pretty self indulgent as well as Judy Davis and Kirstie Alley.
Of all the actors, the standouts would be Julia-Louis Dreyfuss whose natural comedic timing makes her a great addition to the cast especially if the viewer is as much of a fan of Seinfeld as I am, Elizabeth Shue who has a natural charm about her which she proves once again, Tobey Maguire whose widely recognised social awkwardness makes him a prime example of an actor who can nail a role written to be like Woody Allen, Demi Moore's whose small role uses the better elements of her acting ability and Billy Crystal who is simply good to have on board.
But aside from a fairly good cast, Deconstructing Harry is an unfunny and unoriginal film which is poorly directed and suffers from a misconceived script which was somehow nominated for an Academy Award, and it's simply one of Woody Allen's more self-indulgent projects.
It boasts one of the most impressive casts ever assembled for a film and given everyone something juicy to do. Judy Davis waving a gun around spewing obscenities ("You turn everyone's pain and suffering into gold, literary gold!"), Billy Crystal as the Devil ("Sure we get air conditioning down here, it fucks up the ozone layer!"), Richard Benjamin screwing Julia Louis Dreyfuss from behind in front of a blind grandmother, Kirstie Alley running around spewing obscenities ("So now you're blaming me because I don't go out with you enough, to meet strangers to FUCK?!"), Demi Moore giving thanks before blowing Stanley Tucci, Robin Williams as an out-of-focus blob, and Tobey Maguire as a doomed, adultering shoe salesman.
It is definitely Allen's sharpest and angriest and most foul-mouthed, foul-deeded film yet. Employing well executed jump cutting to reflect the main character's fragmented self, a personality the equivalent of a broken mirror, we are dragged along the bumpy road as we jump in and out of stories from the character's past and his own works of fiction, which mirrors his life exactly. It is a confusing, hazy, prismatic film about disappointment, immaturity, and the struggle with whether a man's art can ever save him.