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    She’s Funny That Way (2015): Movie Review

    “A fairly funny yet wildly untidy comedy about a rising Hollywood actress.” 

    Everyone loves rags-to-riches stories and there are plenty of films about them. In the case of the ‘30s-style screwball romcom She’s Funny That Way, directed by veteran Peter Bogdanovich, it is a whore-to-superstar showbiz success story.

    The film opens up with Isabella Patterson or Izzy (Imogen Poots), a young Hollywood starlet, being interviewed by a worn-out journalist. In a kind of witty but messy conversation, Izzy narrates that lucky break that launched her career four years earlier.

    It is a fated night for high-class Brooklyn call girl Izzy or “Glow” as Arnold Albertson or “Derek” (Owen Wilson), a prominent theatre director, takes her out for the entire night. After a steamy roll, Arnold offers her $30,000, in exchange for quitting her job right away and pursuing her dream. Two days later, Izzy walks into a Broadway play audition and to her surprise, Arnold sits on the director’s chair.

    Izzy gets the part she auditioned for and what follows is a jigsaw of awkward affairs and funny people: angry and unsympathetic therapist Jane (Jennifer Aniston) who treats Izzy and Judge Pendergast (Austin Pendleton) who is obsessed with Izzy from her “Glow” days, Jane’s love interest Joshua Fleet (Will Forte) who is Arnold’s playwright and whose father is a private detective (George Morfogen) who Pendergast hires to follow Izzy, Arnold’s jealous wife Delta (Kathryn Hahn), and stage heartthrob Seth (Rhys Ifans) who harbours secret admiration for Delta.

    Moving through a brisk pace, She’s Funny That Way is packed with physical gags and in-jokes, mostly hilarious but other times flat and sleazy. It is entertaining enough and there is obvious love for the movie industry in its interesting subject matter. To spice it up, the film has plenty of cameos of several celebrities (including Michael Shannon, Quentin Tarantino, Joanna Lumley) which come at shocking moments.

    However, a hooker philanthropy is quite a rickety and feeble central premise for a comedy. When Arnold presents the $30,000 deal to Izzy, it is frivolous. You know there is trouble, and this is further intensified when Izzy, an unknown and inexperienced actress, gets casted in one brief audition piece. In effect, the film produces a haphazard picture relying much on disquieting coincidences and impossibilities. Subplots appear to be mindlessly thrown together and the web of characters and relationships only creates an unstable comedic rhythm. Lacking elegance and appeal, the uneven writing leads to a tedious and lousy finale.

    The film has a strong and excellent cast. Newcomer London-born actress Poots, despite struggling with accent issues, manages to give a sincere performance. She is magnetic and mesmerizing on screen. Wilson, Ifans and Hahn also score some funny lines and truly delightful scenes. Aniston is the big winner though. Her experience as a comedic actress is apparent with her flawless delivery of the mad psychiatrist with her own sudden burst of tantrums.

    In general, She’s Funny That Way is not exactly funny that way. It has some great clever moments but the overall erratic plot and sequencing make the film dull and whiny.


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