Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Film Review: "She's Funny That Way" (2015).

The tagline of the film reads "Show biz has always been a little screwball" is exactly what She's Funny That Way attempts to explore. This screwball comedy film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and co-written with Louise Stratten. On the set of a playwright's new project, a love triangle forms between his wife, her ex-lover, and the call girl-turned-actress cast in the production.

She's Funny That Way is the first feature Peter Bogdanovich has directed in 12 years, since The Cat's Meow (2001). The film originated from a script written by director Peter Bogdanovich and ex-wife Louise Stratten around 1999 and 2000. Bogdanovich and Stratten, who were in financial distress at the time trying to buy back They All Laughed (1981), decided to write a comedy to uplift their spirits. While writing the script, Bogdanovich was inspired by an incident in Singapore during the time he was filming Saint Jack in 1978, where he was able to talk to many prostitutes after hiring them for his film. He would give them more money than their salary for them to leave the prostitution business. People Magazine reported this film going into pre-production in the mid-1990s, with the title Squirrels to the Nuts and featured Tatum O'Neal in the leading role. Peter Bogdanovich was quoted as saying "This movie is my gift to her." But due to many people misunderstanding it was a children's film, Bogdanovich changed it to She's Funny That Way. For the role of Arnold Albertson, Bogdanovich originally wrote it for John Ritter, but due to his death, Bogdanovich shelved the project. Eventually, Bogdanovich became friends with Owen Wilson, introduced to him by Wes Anderson, and he decided to change aspects of the character of Albertson: all of the physical gags intended for Ritter were changed to verbal jokes to suit Wilson. In 2010, protégés of Bogdanovich – Anderson and Noah Baumbach – offered their backing to get the film made, agreeing to serve as executive producers.

The film stars Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Kathryn Hahn, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans, Cybill Shepherd, Debi Mazar, Illeana Douglas and Jennifer Aniston. The performances were superbly acted and all expertly contributed to the film's hilarious gags and riffs. But it was Poots' performance that carried this film forward and she amazingly pulled off a Brooklyn accent.

Making excellent use of its characters and setting, Peter Bogdanovich's She's Funny That Way, an unusual story of a big city escort making it big, is a humorous but moving film filled with impressive performances. There are a number of hefty laughs scattered throughout. The film is a near-good perfect comedy piece, constructed with such delicacy that any opportunistic adjustment can destroy it, which is what happens here. It may not even be Mr. Bogdanovich's fault. Yet too often the action and the dialogue are so fuzzily understood that some of the laughs are lost. The film's problem is more basic: the attempt to make a screwball comedy contemporary with endless classic film references to today's audience and make it a hit - It can't be done.

Simon says She's Funny That Way receives:

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