Friday, May 28, 2010

It Must Be True If Everyone Is Saying It.

Everyone Says I Love You

While my wife is a big fan of theatre musicals, I have always been more drawn to musicals on the big screen. Sure I have seen a few theatrical productions that I have really enjoyed (e.g. Avenue Q, Evil Dead: The Musical, Jersey Boys, Miss Saigon), but none of them seem to have a lasting impression on me the way films do. When Andrew invited me to take part in his blog-a-thon on musicals, the first film that immediately popped into my mind was Moulin Rouge. Mainly because that was the last musical to truly dazzle me. Sure I enjoyed films like Chicago, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, etc. but none of them really spoke to me the way Baz Luhrmann’s genre bending film did. Still, if am pressed to pick my all-time favourite musical, Moulin Rouge would come second behind Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You.

Compared to many modern day musical, Everyone Says I Love may seem like a bland choice by some. It often gets overshadowed by some of the flashier, and star studded, productions of late. Yet is the simplicity, and overall joy it induces, which makes Allen’s film standout. In preparation for this musical related post I watched the film Nine, the musical not the animated movie, for the very first time last week. I had been meaning to see it for some time now but never got around to it. I figured the blog-a-thon was a good reason as any to finally watch the much hyped film. Despite the movie’s stellar casting, I was amazed by how much I detested Nine.

The problem I had with Nine is that the film is so concerned with given each star their moment in the sun, that the story takes a backseat to the musical numbers. In Everyone Says I Love You, the story is always at the forefront and the musical moments merely compliment the tale, not the other way around. Even when juggling a large cast, which include the likes of Edward Norten, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Tim Roth, Natalie Portman, Goldie Hawn, Billy Crudup, Lukas Haas, Natasha Lyonne, and Alan Alda, Woody Allen always ensures that you get a true understanding of how everyone is important to the overall story. At no point does the flow of the picture come to a grinding halt just so Julia or Goldie can have their moment.



Another thing I really like about this film is that Allen finds a nice compromise between the 1930’s musicals, which inspired the film, and his own self-deprecating style. Allen will have a lavish number like “My Baby Just Cares For Me” with full backup dancers and yet the lead singer, in this case Edward Norton, still sings and dances like the “average Joe” would in that situation. This is not to say Norton has a bad voice, but his tone is not as polished as you would expect from this type of musicals. Woody Allen also contains a lot of his musical numbers in the same locations the songs start in. There are no quick cuts, no costume/location changes, no characters singing on stages, etc. Allen tries to bring as much realism as possible to confines of the 1930’s musical genre.

Lastly, and most importantly, Everyone Says I Love You is that perfect romantic pick me up that we all need from time to time. The themes of looking for love, being in love, and being in relationships with the wrong people, are common in almost every single Woody Allen film. Yet there is a more optimistic, and whimsical, feel in this particular film than is more prominent than his other works. Everyone from the upper east side elite to the two-bit gangster is struck by cupid’s arrow. You swoon when Alan Alda serenades Goldie Hawn on her birthday, yet you also are hoping that Hawn and Allen rekindle that spark they once had when they were together at another point in the film. Some may complain that Everyone Says I Love You wraps up a little too neat, but frankly I would not have it any other way.

6 comments:

  1. For someone who's a big Woody fan it's probably offensive that I've never seen this, very original choice.

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  2. @Andrew - It does not get the same level of love that Woody Allen's other films get, but you should definitely check it out when you get a chance.

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  3. Everybody's great in this, I think. Especially liked Tim Roth in what little screentime he had.

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  4. @Simon - Roth is especially good in this. He and Barrymore have some of the best lines in the film.

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  5. The scenes in Venice and Paris are magical! That waltz by the river just takes my breath away.
    I think my favorite number is the one in the funeral home followed closely by the adorable Halloween sequence. That Chiquita banana costume is wicked!

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  6. @Jose - The funeral number is fantastic. I also hear you on the banana costume, it cracks me up everytime.

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