By Christian DiMartino
Peter Bogdanovich’s She’s Funny That Way feels like a Woody Allen effort, and for that reason alone, I found it somewhat enjoyable. It would be a somewhat lesser Allen effort, but still an entertaining one. The material is hit-or-miss, but yet the situations that these characters find themselves in end up funnier than the actual film, even though none of it would happen in real life.
This is Bogdanovich’s first film in over a decade, and he has rounded up quite the cast here. Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Jennifer Aniston, Will Forte, Kathryn Hahn, Rhys Ifans, Cybill Shepard, Richard Lewis, Austin Pendleton. Not to mention, it features a random appearance from Michael Shannon as a cop, and an even more random cameo in the final scene that is just as random as it is welcome. The cast doesn’t deliver their best work, but they all give perfectly enjoyable, if not a bit over-the-top, performances.
The “she” that the title is referring to is Isabella (Poots), a prostitute and aspiring actress who lives at home with her neurotic parents (Shepard and Lewis). Basically, whoever she sleeps with, she leaves them in a daze. They fall for her instantly. Poots is a likable actress, and Isabella is an entertaining character, but her accent is a little wobbly.
Isabella soon meets Arnold (Wilson), a theatre director. They sleep together, and afterwards, he offers her $30,000 just to quit being a hooker. He sees something special in her, and wants her to only sleep with someone when it is special, rather than for money.
Next thing you know, Isabella has a theatre audition… for the role of a call girl (how fitting). Even more fitting, this play is being directed by Arnold, and also stars Arnold’s wife, Delta (Hahn). Throw Forte into the mix as a playwright who has the hots Isabella, even though he has a therapist girlfriend (Aniston), who just so happens to be Isabella’s therapist.
Sounds like a lot to take in. It kind of is, but that is what makes it fun. She’s Funny That Way isn’t a great comedy. The dialogue is well written, but it is only funny in spurts. Nonetheless, the situations that the characters end up in are funny, and watching these characters weave and wove into each other’s lives is certainly a treat.
These events, though funny, are far-fetched. I am fine with that though. They don’t call it a “screwball” comedy for nothing. We have certainly seen screwball comedies done better, but for what it is, She’s Funny That Way is light, enjoyable, if not flawed, entertainment.