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IN SHORT: A Tepid two hours of limp Woody.
"We can learn a lot about society by whom we choose to celebrate" says new to the TV camera ex-English schoolteacher Robin Simon (Judy Davis), ex-wife of writer journalist Lee Simon(Kenneth Branagh). Let's not and say we did.
Celebrity opens with the world HELP being sprayed in the sky by an airplane, as part of a scene being shot for a movie. It ends the same way reflecting, perhaps, the feeling of everyone who sat through all two hours of Woody Allen's latest movie. Writer Director Allen continues his return to the mindset of the collegiate film student -- and we all remember Cranky bitching about the camerawork in last year's Deconstructing Harry -- with a wandering, loosely focused and barely amusing romp through the underside of the celebrities we (and the media we love) idolize. There's very little to keep you happy in your seats, for while every scene has at least one funny line, only two scenes in the entire film are wet your pants funny. Allen has assembled a new Circus of Stars and it sort of goes like this . . .
In the center ring is Woody Allen archetype Lee Simon (Branagh) a writer whose subjects seem to be limited to starlets and the like. A movie star (Melanie Griffith) who is married and faithful only from the neck down; A supermodel (Charlize Theron) who can be become orgasmic at the slightest touch. For year's we've seen these situations and the WA character nebbish his way around them, or clumsily slobber through them. Now, Branagh does WA and his impersonation is perfectly detailed in every physical tick and verbal hiccup and hesitation, but it comes and goes and that's way distracting. T'ain't funny.
Due to his Crisis, Simon divorces wife Robin (Davis) who immediately heads off to the plastic surgeon to be remade for life number two. The surgeon is famous. A TV crew is there. It's producer, Tony Gardello (Joe Mantegna), sees Robin and two hours later she's both a TV star and his new wife. While Robin rises, Lee falls into a nose in the air web of book editors, trying to pitch a novel; and nose in places that smell like fish movie stars, trying to pitch a bad script called "Heist."
The moviestar pitch, to young superstar Brad Darrow (Leonardo DiCaprio), is the highlight of the flick. Leo, hired before Titanic became the monster that it did, plays a right bastard of an egocentric star. He beats his girlfriend. He trashes his hotel room, he invites Lee into a sexual foursome (cue the WA impersonation) and everyone placates him and tells him it's OK. This brief sequence is the only time Celebrity is flush with life. The other great gag involves Bebe Neuwirth as a prostitute that Robin hires to show her how to properly down a banana.
This is a public webpage folk. Cranky ain't getting any more graphic than that. The banana gag has been done ad nauseum, but the twist that is put on it in this flick is very funny.
The rest of the circus includes Winona Ryder, Famke Janssen, Gretchen Mol and Donald Trump. Ryder and Janssen are both fine in their bits, though Trump gets off the best gag.
Cranky's gal pal refuses to see Woody Allen movies 'cuz she hates the whiny New Yorker she associates with them. This whiny New York has no such problem, except when the films aren't funny. Cranky didn't like Deconstructing Harry and thus wasn't invited to see Celebrity early. (Like this whiny New Yorker wouldn't have been dead center in the middle of a paying crowd of whiny New Yorkers on opening night . . . which he was . . . the departing crowd wasn't happy, neither).
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Celebrity, he would have paid...
Rent and fast forward to the good part.
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