Anything Else (2003)

“There was something compelling about your apathy.”

In Anything Else–a Woody Allen film, Jason Biggs plays Jerry Falk–a comedy writer based in New York. Falk lives with Amanda (Christina Ricci), and while Falk is enthralled with Amanda, it’s obvious that the couple have serious problems. Amanda is unreliable and flakey, but Falk finds excuses for Amanda’s behaviour. Paula (Stockard Channing), Amanda’s out-of-control mother moves in. Falk’s agent is Harvey (Danny Devito)–who’s as greedy as he is incompetent. Falk finds excuses for Harvey too. Falk has a pattern of absorbing outrages.

Enter… David Dobel (Woody Allen)–another comedy writer (and teacher). Dobel and Falk immediately strike up an easy friendship. With Dobel, Falk finds that he has a confidant, friend, and mentor. Finally, Falk can express himself to someone who is interested.

Anything Else does not compare to Woody Allen’s best films Crimes and Misdemeanors, Purple Rose of Cairo, etc., but, nonetheless, this is vintage Woody Allen–perceptive & humorous. The film’s biggest failing is in the casting of Jason Biggs as the comedy writer. He is the foil to Woody’s peculiar, eccentric worldly wisdom, but the Falk character is not quite believable somehow. I kept seeing Edward Burns in this role. Christina Ricci was great as Falk’s self-centered, pretentious girlfriend, and Stockard Channing ( a very talented comedienne) was amazing as Amanda’s ridiculously demanding mother. Channing and Ricci made a very believable mother-and daughter team. The character of David Dobel was fascinating, and I would have to say that David Dobel’s dialogue was always hilariously surprising. So for Woody Allen fans, I recommend Anything Else.

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