July 2, 2011

Midnight In Paris

A whimsical history ride. Gil (Owen Wilson) is a Hollywood screenwriting hack, restless over the cultural bankruptcy of the 21st century, longing for a golden era. On vacation in Paris with his superficial fiancee and her boring parents, he escapes into the 1920s one night as the clock strikes 12, and becomes immersed in the "Moveable Feast" of Paris between the wars. I'm giving this an A-minus grade. (It's not a straight "A" only due to the complete shamelessness that Allen writes the same old arguments between the protagonist and his fiancee. When Gil calls a rival a "pseudo-intellectual", I felt like I'd heard this argument 100 times before.)

You've entered the 1920s. It's just sinking in.
Owen Wilson is just right as the Woody stand-in. I didn't really believe the standard hypochondriac jokes coming from his mouth, but the rest of the Woody template felt genuine. His reactions as he discovers he's traveled in time are spot-on perfect. Poor Rachel McAdams, saddled with the thankless fiancee/shallow shrew role. You can't say no to a Woody Allen movie, but she doesn't have much to do here except wear amazing clothing, and get paid to sightsee in Paris for a month.

You have to know the basics of 1920s culture to have fun in this movie- I know just barely enough to get the jokes and laugh in the right places.

The casting of the real-life people was terrific, especially Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs The World) as Zelda Fitzgerald; Corey Stoll (and his impressive moustache) as Hemingway; and...well, there's two Oscar winners in cameo roles, but I don't want to spoil it for you!

I wasn't too impressed with Marion Cotillard as the artistic muse ingenue. We can all agree she's enchanting, but there wasn't much more there except gazing at her face.

Landmark Embassy Theater, Waltham, MA, with my wife on our fifth wedding anniversary.

Kurt Fuller is now in my personal "Hey It's That Guy" Hall of Fame- he plays McAdams's father, the "Alan Alda" role (only Fuller is 20 years younger). Fuller made his debut on Knight Rider in 1984, and has appeared on every TV show ever since. You can run into him on the big screen in The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wayne's World...155 IMDb credits total. In 2016 I saw him in the News Radio pilot and Ghostbusters II on the same day! It's appropriate that he's in a time-travelling movie- he was in the Jean-Claude Van Damme TIMECOP movie, and the TV spinoff too.