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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Retro Review: Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

Everyone Says I Love You
Cast: Woody Allen, Drew Barrymore, Goldie Hawn, Edward Norton, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts
Genre: Musical Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $9 million

Plot: A New York girl sets her father up with a beautiful woman in a troubled marriage while her stepsister gets engaged 

'Before La La Land Came This Woody Allen Musical Offering'

I'll get right off the bat - I'm usually not one for Woody Allen films - I just find them difficult to get into, no matter how much I try to watch one of them. 

Woody Allen is one of those directors that critics and some people rave on about - yet whose work never made sense to me. Or be it I can't make sense of his work, but his character here made little to no sense. What interested me in this film was the singing performances, moreso than the actual narrative and the acting performances. Operating as a musical satire, Everyone Says I Love You is light and frothy in places, yet as an overall film, it never pulled me in and made me care enough about the characters. 

The film also bombed at the U.S box office by only managing takings of over $9 million on a $20 million budget.

The pairing of Alan Alda and Goldie Hawn looked weird, although even weirder is Woody Allen himself, who plays an obsessed lover who stalks Julia Roberts's character, Von Fannie. This romantic aspect seemed to occur out of falseness. Allen seems to have this thing for playing and casting himself as characters like Joe, getting hooked up with beautiful looking actresses like Julia Roberts and Elizabeth Shue, whilst complaining and whining & boasting his ego. Despite being half their age (and that it was as if I was watching a woman in her late 20s, early 30s), the scene where Julia kisses then 61-yr-old Woody Allen, it was like I was watching a young woman kissing her uncle or something. It's hard to believe that he cast himself as the main male lead opposite for Julia Roberts's charms, when he could've easily cast another actor and one who is slightly younger than himself, in that role. Likewise, I was a little grossed out by that scene. Julia and Woody didn't possess any romantic spark and nor did their love felt convincing and genuine. & yeah opposites attract and what-not, but I just couldn't picture someone like Von Frannie falling for a guy like Joe. That relationship fails to initiate any kind of emotional response and believability. Allen would have been better off with Goldie Hawn - that would have worked better and ideally as a romantic pairing. As I watched their scenes together towards the end, I wondered why this didn't happen earlier on and for Allen to scrap that story-line with Von and Allen's character. 

Also, Allen's penchant for comedy is very much brief but for Drew Barrymore and Ed Norton who play a young engaged couple, the rest of the other characters and their versions of love are not conceived very well. 

As I was watching this, I didn't become engrossed and I just couldn't relate to what he was trying to say in this film. The performances are all right at best, but the overall film itself was an utter bore and chore to sit through. Not to mention so self-absorbing with practically no depth. Yet one or two of the conversations between various characters and cast members were somewhat intriguing, such as Julia Roberts with Woody Allen in the art gallery. 

And as for her singing, well, she did it better in Stepmom when she sang ''Ain't No Mountain High Enough''. Here, it sounds rather flat, no disrespect to her, because Julia Roberts excels as an actress. Whereas Drew Barrymore had her singing voice dubbed. Yet without a doubt, it's Goldie Hawn's vocal efforts that win the plaudits - her singing was really, really impressive and thankfully she closed the film with it. 

I've been reading comments saying there is just too much singing in this film; erm, this is a musical and in a musical, one would expect singing here. Ed Norton was pretty good, although really Woody Allen should've opted for actors and actresses who could sing musical-based songs well. There is so little plot but just a series of scenes put together. The musical aspects come across as being slightly better than the inconsistent and boorish romantic nuggets of so-called wisdom that bored my brains out. And yet, I also think they could have picked or written better songs to go with this offering. 


Pros +

- Interesting casting

- Lavish locations and settings
- Some of the singing was okay
- Goldie Hawn's singing the best by far 


- The romantic stories of the characters were bland and not very interesting

- Characterisations all over the place and are unrelatable to the audience
- Woody Allen and Julia Roberts's romance was somewhat icky for me
- Songs could have been better 
- Film was mostly a bore and chore 

Final Verdict:

This film was tedious for me and the tone just wasn't the right fit for it. I think you have to be an avid lover of Woody Allen to be able to get into and to really enjoy 'Everyone Says I Love You'. But for the singing, the characterisations in this film are all over the place, as well as unrelatable. For me, it didn't work as a musical, as the songs aren't catchy or memorable and the film didn't interest me enough as a spectacle.

It seemed as though Woody Allen was trying too hard to make something memorable; unfortunately, his direction and his take on the musical formula just never hit the spot. It's not a completely bad film for me personally - it just didn't work and the likes of Julia Roberts are wasted in their roles. Yet the preposterous decision of Woody Allen to become romantically embroiled with Julia Roberts was enough to make me gag and hurl.  

This is an awkward concoction of musical production numbers, mixed with uninspired -yet cardboard characters and stories about love in the Big Apple. 

I also think that Woody Allen should have picked actors and actresses who can actually sing, given as this is a musical and musical films demand quality vocals from performers. 

Yet another Woody film I found little to no enjoyment in - and with most of his other films, 'Everyone Says I Love You' is only worth recommending to fans of his work. 


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