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Anything Else (2003)

In any relationship, one person always does the heavy lifting.

In any relationship, one person always does the heavy lifting

Directed by:

Woody Allen

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 108 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States

‘Anything Else’ might be a difficult DVD to rent (ask the bloke behind the counter if he’s got ‘Anything Else’, and he’ll doubtless reply “only what you see, mate” – it could conceivably go on all day), but it’s worth it. From Woody Allen – a writer-director so regular in his one-movie-a-year mantra that you can practically set your Casio by his releases – it’s another mirthsome trip into New York neuroses, laced with easily enough good humour and textbook awkwardness to be well worth a recommendation.

Not unusually for a Woody flick, its concern is with the lifespan of a romantic liaison, in this case between socially-cumbersome comedy writer Jerry (Jason Biggs) and the inadvertently-manipulative Amanda (Christina Ricci). Upon meeting for the first time, the pair fall in love almost instantly – but it’s not long before she’s putting the brakes on the rumpy-pumpy, he’s losing patience with all around him (including psychiatrist William Hill and manager Danny De Vito), and the relationship looks to be crumbling faster than a packet of Hob-Nobs thrown against a wall by a body-builder.

As a nice touch, Biggs talks intermittently to the camera, and Woody himself pops up as a would-be mentor (as in, he “would be” a mentor if the advice he was dishing out wasn’t so appalling) to the troubled twenty-something. Ricci, meanwhile, delivers a cracking performance, and her striking good looks are infinitely more captivating than anything the stage hypnotist could ever have conjured up in Allen’s 2001 project ‘The Curse of the Jade Scorpion’.

Sure, old Wooders dips a little shamelessly into his own back catalogue (most notably ‘Annie Hall’) to come up with some of the ideas in this one – but it features a much younger leading cast than he normally works with, and they inject a freshness into the material which deserves to open up his work to a whole new audience who may otherwise have ignored a Woody Allen movie. The humour in this one may be a little uncomfortable to watch at times, but that doesn’t prevent ‘Anything Else’ from being entertaining, intelligent and funny.

It's Got: A car-parking feud lifted straight out of an old ‘Seinfeld’ episode, and a sale on surplus Russian army rifles.

It Needs: A full survival kit, complete with floating flashlight.

DVD Extras Absolutely zilch. Perhaps this part of the package should have been titled ‘Nothing Else’? Edition reviewed: Anything Else (2003) also available from Amazon.com DVD Extras Rating: 0/10

Alternatives:

Annie Hall, Manhattan

Summary

Woody Allen proves he can do it for the kids with this fun, thoughtful and triumphant answer to ‘Annie Hall’ for the Naughties.

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