Melinda and Melinda Reviews
The film received mostly mixed reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film received 51% positive reviews, based on 144 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 54 out of 100, based on 40 reviews. Leonard Maltin gives the film two stars, calling it "meandering," with "echoes... of earlier, better Allen movies".
Melinda and Melinda opened on March 18, 2005, in one New York City cinema, where it grossed $74,238 in its first three days, the 21st highest limited release opening in Hollywood history. In weekend two, it expanded to 95 theatres to gross $740,618, seeing its per screen average nosedive to $7,795.
Overseas, it grossed an additional $16,259,545, bringing its worldwide total to $20,085,825.
Woody Allen said in Conversations with Woody Allen that he wanted to cast Winona Ryder in the title role. He had to replace her with Radha Mitchell because no one would insure Ryder due to her arrest for shoplifting - this would have made it impossible to obtain a film completion bond. Allen stated he was sad because he had written the part for Ryder after working with her on Celebrity. In the same interview, he also claimed to have intended Ferrell's part for Robert Downey, Jr., but, again, insurance got in the way due to Downey's history of arrests and drug abuse.
Radha Mitchell plays Melinda in both versions. Chloë Sevigny, Jonny Lee Miller, and Chiwetel Ejiofor star with her in the tragedy, while Will Ferrell and Amanda Peet star with her in the comedy. Steve Carell has a small part as Ferrell's friend.
The film also stars Wallace Shawn (alluding to his dinner-philosophy argument in My Dinner with Andre) as the comic playwright, Larry Pine as the tragedian, and Brooke Smith as Cassie. All three had appeared in the 1994 film Vanya on 42nd Street, directed by Louis Malle.
The cast includes:
Radha Mitchell as Melinda
Chloë Sevigny as Laurel
Jonny Lee Miller as Lee
Will Ferrell as Hobie
Amanda Peet as Susan
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Ellis
Wallace Shawn as Sy
Josh Brolin as Greg
Vinessa Shaw as Stacey
Steve Carell as Walt
Arija Bareikis as Sally
Matt Servitto as Jack
Zak Orth as Peter
Brooke Smith as Cassie
Daniel Sunjata as Billy
Larry Pine as Max
Andy Borowitz as Doug
man this is such a really really powerful drama movie 2 watch, its got a great cast throughout this movie.....man this is such an enjoyable movie 2 watch......man this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch.....I think that this is such a really really funny movie 2 watch, but it is such a really sad movie 2 watch as well.....man this is such an enjoyable movie 2 watch with a great cast throughout this movie.....its got a good soundtrack throughout this movie.....man this is such an enjoyable movie 2 watch with a great cast throughout this movie.......
They paint two situations, one a romantic comedy, and the other a drama. They have three things in common - the star is Melinda (Radha Mitchell), she has gone through a divorce, and she is crashing a dinner party.
In the drama, she is a hopeless mess who relies on pill popping and alcohol to get by, and crashes in with her doting married friends, Laurel (Chloë Sevigny) and Lee (Jonny Lee Miller) to get things figured out. She gets involved with a romantic pianist (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who eventually sets his sights on Laurel, leading Melinda down the same spiral she was on before.
In the romantic comedy, Melinda is a cute, slightly kooky woman who finds herself at a stranger's dinner party after taking a few too many sleeping pills. The party is hosted by self-absorbed filmmaker Susan (Amanda Peet) and her husband Hobie (Will Ferrell), a struggling actor. Despite her arrival, the group gets to like Melinda, and before long, Hobie, feeling long ignored by Susan, develops feelings for her.
"Melinda and Melinda" is an intriguing film. It definitely isn't perfect - at times, the drama feels a bit forced, and the romantic comedy is more cutesy than romantic or funny - but Woody Allen, after years of great films (and a few misfires), takes familiar elements and makes them fascinating again.
Though both the plots are technically fake and merely exist in the minds of the fictional writers who thought them up, you can't help but get entranced in the lives of the characters. Each story is completely opposite from the other, and it makes for good contrast: if either was a single film, most likely neither would have worked.
Allen's voice is distinct as usual, whether or not it exists in a female character or not, and it fits well - the film has a set of neurotic characters that fit in the same category of Allen himself. Divorce is a major theme in the film, and no matter which storyline it slides into, it's dealt with in a compelling manner. It shows how Allen, after years of experience, can easily write wry comedy just as well as drama.
The ensemble, which has a unique range, delivers. The supporting players, which includes Ejiofor, Sevigny, Peet, and Miller are all fittingly excellent, but it is Radha Mitchell and Will Ferrell who steal the show. Ferrell plays against type, and it's refreshing to see. Watching him play an average guy almost seems like a sight to behold, and he does a great job with it. Mitchell is phenomenal - she is the only actor in the film who is forced to play two characters, and she is wonderful. She brings such intensity to her portrayal(s) of Melinda that either way, we're completely magnetized.
"Melinda and Melinda" isn't the best film in Allen's lengthy filmography, but it's interesting to watch and, in all, entertaining.