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Movie Details

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Directed By
Woody Allen

Written By:
Woody Allen

J.K. Simmons, Kenneth Branagh, Judy Davis, Hank Azaria, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joe Mantegna, Famke Janssen, Winona Ryder, Melanie Griffith, Michael Lerner, Charlize Theron, Bebe Neuwirth, Dylan Baker, Patti D'Arbanville, Kate Burton, Gretchen Mol, Allison Janney, Aida Turturro, Jeffrey Wright, Tracy Coogan

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Celebrity (1998)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
October 31st, 2007

'Celebrity' is not the best film in Woody Allen's repertoire, not by a long shot, but it is unmistakably Allenesque, filled with an amazing cast, with just enough humor and acerbic wit to make sure you are never bored. Kenneth Branagh is Lee Simon, who currently does interviews with Hollywood luminaries, while working on both a novel and a screenplay, the latter of which he tries to push off on any star who will listen to him for more than five minutes. He has recently divorced his wife, Robin (Judy Davis), who did not take the news well, to put it mildly. Lee meets Nicole Oliver (Melanie Griffith), a beautiful, high-profile actress, followed by Charlize Theron, as a supermodel who eyes his car, a classic Aston Martin, which Lee bought exclusively to use as a chick magnet, and it seems to work. He becomes entranced by Nola (Winona Ryder), also an actress, and a lot of other things, it would seem, who actually appears to love Lee, and they keep running into each other, when they are both involved with someone else.

Robin starts working for Tony Gardella (Joe Mantegna), and eventually gets engaged to him; Lee moves in with Bonnie (Famke Janssen), a prominent editor, who wants him to finish his novel and abandon his screenplay. Leonardo Dicaprio is Brandon Darrow, a young actor who likes to trash hotel rooms, snort cocaine, and have sex with groupies, all while assaulting his ever-tearful girlfriend, who always ends up forgiving him and never pressing charges. Lee is neurotic, but Robin is worse, and you wonder how they put up with each other. Robin is incredibly dramatic; Lee is obnoxiously indecisive. He drives most of his female companions away; Tony proves to be patient and forgiving, and Robin overcomes her own insecurities to find success.

Davis and Branagh are terrific, both sport spot-on American accents, and a wealth of superb cameos and supporting roles make this all the more entertaining. It is smart and funny, with moments of brilliant dialogue, but it gets burdened by the sheer number of characters and sub-plots. The black-and-white photography is evocative of Manhattan and Zelig, both of which are superior to Celebrity. Celebrity lacks any real edge, and it is not consistently sharp, but I wouldn't call it mediocre, perhaps slightly above average. In the pantheon of Allen's work, it ranks quite low, but judged on its own terms, it is certainly not a bad film, but one that is overstuffed and not terribly cohesive, taking a lot of narrative detours.

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