Very original film from master writer-director Woody Allen. The 1980s were a very creative period for Allen, including venturing into more dramatic areas. Long gone were the absurdist (yet very funny) comedies of the early 70s. Zelig is a bit of a throwback to that period, with a wonderfully ridiculous central plot and some hilarious jokes.
While over-the-top, the plot is actually very plausible doesn't fall apart, remaining solid to the end. Being presented as a documentary helps the plausibility.
Reveling in its absurdity the movie has a great momentum and energy. The documentary format presents Allen with scores of opportunities to demonstrate his editing and cinematographic skills, editing Zelig (ie himself) into newsreels with famous people as well as constructing very plausible "footage" of Zelig at famous events.
One of Woody Allen's greatest movies, and that says a lot.
He attempts to make a strong point about the court of public opinion and the power of the press, which feels slightly forced, but what works is everyone's fear of not 'fitting in.' Most interesting when Zelig is alone he is completely devoid of personality because he has no one to work blend in with. An interesting, short movie that's most notable for it's ability to impose Allen's image on old footage in the pre-computer filmmaking era.