Vicky Cristina Barcelona
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -4

Javier Bardem, Patricia Clarkson, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall. Comedy. Written and directed by Woody Allen.

FILM SYNOPSIS: In this bittersweet comedy, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall play two young Americans summering in Spain. And quicker than you can say another pitcher of Sangria, waiter, they meet a flamboyant artist and his insane ex-wife. Both are beguiled by the amorous and amoral artist, who manages to convince one of the young women to share his home with him and his ex and soon their bed.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I love the humor and story complexity of many of Woody Allens films, as hes one of a dying breed who avoids CGI effects and things that go boom in order to entertain. He almost always tells an intricate story and of late relies on a comedy of manners rather than buffoonery or the exploitation of bodily functions in order to get laughs. And in this production Mr. Allen brings together three absolutely stunning screen actresses, Ms. Johansson and Ms. Cruz being creations I think the Lord took extra time in constructing. And, oh how I love to see a summer film release without having to suffer through the angst of a superhero or the travails of the citizens of Gotham City. But before you all rush to the conclusion that this is an endorsement, there are elements of Woody Allens work that give pause.

Woody has been known to address morality and even the existence of God (Crimes and Misdemeanors), but all too often he uses those subjects as mere comic fodder. Here any serious examination of the relationship between male and female is minimized by titillating sexuality. Yes, the bespectacled auteur is making fun of unrestricted sexual mores (I think thats what hes doing), but he also handles the theme like a smarmy, self-indulgent fantasy.

Youd think an artist who sculpts or paints would be in tune with the plausibility of a Creator. However, too often the artiste thinks he and his ilk are the gods of creation. Thats the case with Woodys male lead character, a man unimpressed with the spirituality of religious art, preferring his own myopic vision of life and death. Now, I dont expect many films to focus on God, but they lose me when the main characters are allowed to deny His existence, with no one in the production challenging that conclusion. There is a moral, of sorts, as the final shot indicates that the thirst to satisfy self is unquenchable. Alas, the satiric barbs and the life lesson are so blunted by the visual enticements of sin and wrongdoing that all else is lost, including the characters.

DVD Alternatives: Enchanted April. A delightful fable about four women in 1920s London escaping inattentive husbands and repressed lifestyles by renting a castle in Portofino. They soon discover the estate has a magical effect on all those who stay there. Witty dialogue, dreamy cinematography, and savory performances from Joan Plowright, Polly Walker and the rest of the cast.

Or,

The Philadelphia Story. Classic comedy about bride-to-be socialite. Complicating matters a reporter immediately falls in love with her and the first husband wants her back. Scintillating dialogue and amusing performances by Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: Four or five obscenities, mostly the s-word.
Profanity: Two profane uses of Gods name, and Christs name is used twice as a frustrated exclamation - with little reverence for Him or those who believe that Jesus is the Savior; the expression oh my God is used a couple of times, which I wouldnt mind if I thought that the characters or those playing them actually believed that He was.
Violence: A woman shoots a gun at her lover and his new paramour.
Sexual Intercourse: The film is a sex farce, with an air of sexuality throughout; though the scenes dont become overly graphic, there are several of them; we see a man and woman in bed; then a man and two women in bed; the two female leads are seen kissing; a woman commits adultery, while telling another that she should do the same in order to be happy.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: Same sex is part of the life experience so say the free thinking characters.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Throughout, though it avoids crude words to do so.
Drug Abuse: Drinking throughout man, these folks are like Hemingways lost generation.
Other: None
Running Time: 96 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and Adults

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