To Rome With Love

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -3

Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg. Romantic Comedy. Written & directed by Woody Allen.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Further investigating the comical prospects of Europe, here Woody Allen sets his multiple-story concept in the Eternal City. An American girl falls in love with an Italian, so her mom (Judy Davis) and dad (Woody Allen) fly over to meet her fiancťe and his folks. Woody is a retired record producer, so when he overhears the father-in-law-to-be singing like Caruso in the shower, he immediately wants to promote this great talent. Turns out the guy can only sing in the shower. Then there are the newlyweds who get separated, with him getting entangled with a prostitute and she with an opportunistic movie star. Then thereís Alec Baldwin as a visiting architect who mystically meets himself as a young man, and tries to warn the younger version not to get involved with a destructive free spirit.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I havenít seen this much absurdity since Waiting For Godot. Like todayís filmmakers use crudity to stimulate the funnybones of their audiences, Woody Allen has always used zany, nonsensical premises to tickle our sides. But a writer/director takes a chance with such an abundance of absurdity. Sometimes the concept initially looks better in the script than it ultimately does on the screen. (Youíd think seeing a guy wheeled around a stage in a shower as he performs Rigoletto would be hysterical. Sadly, not so much.)

Where Midnight in Paris was a hit, To Rome With Love is more of a hit-and-miss. One thing you want to hear in a Woody Allen comedy is laughter from the audience. It only came sporadically at the press screening. But there are still laughs and when you go to see a Woody Allen comedy, you are seeing a dying breed. He still incorporates observational humor amid his cartoonish antics. And while his humor can often be irreverent and raucous, itís seldom raunchy.

While itís difficult for me to recommend Woodyís film collection due to that irreverence and bawdiness, still I think of him as a true genius as a comic filmmaker. Sleeper, Manhattan, Hanna and Her Sisters, Whatís Up Tiger Lily?, Annie Hall, Zelig, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Bullets Over Broadway are inventive and hysterical. Some of his deeper films such as Crimes and Misdemeanors are also revealing, downright insightful. And even when a film doesnít quite work, such as Small Time Crooks, still thereís no denying that the bespectacled auteur gave us his all.

Keep in mind, while I respect Mr. Allen as a clever, inventive filmmaker, he is also a man who misuses Jesusí name in nearly every one of his films. I just canít defend that.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Sony Pictures Classics

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A few crude sexual references.

Obscene Language: Five or six obscenities and a couple of minor expletives.

Profanity: One profane use of Godís name and three of Christís.

Violence: None

Sex: Adultery is committed; there are several sexual discussions, including a provocative delivery by Ellen Page as she discusses a liaison with another woman; many of these situations and conversations border on the bawdy; Penelope Cruz plays a hooker, she is dressed for the role and seduces a young married man.

Nudity: A man sings in the shower, but the camera is discreet.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some wine drinking.

Other: None

Running Time: 112 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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