Melinda and Melinda

Synopsis: One love story. Two versions. Seriously funny.

You’ll “laugh till it hurts” (Rolling Stone) watching comedy superstar Will Ferrell lead a talented ensemble cast in this innovative and seriously funny film. Legendary writer/director Woody Allen tells a woman’s story twice – once as a comedy, once as a drama. When emotionally desperate Melinda (Radha Mitchell) crashes a Manhattan dinner party, the chaos that ensues leads to romantic temptations and unexpected love affairs. Ferrell delivers a laugh-out-loud performance as a neurotic, out-of-work actor who falls for Melinda’s quirky charms.

Melinda and Melinda 6.5

In ‘Melinda and Melinda’, Woody Allen chooses to tell his story from two perspectives: from the a dramatic standpoint and from a comedic one. It’s an interesting concept, in that we are treated to two similar stories, with similar characters and similar plot elements, but with largely different tones and casts.

In Allen’s hands, it should have been brilliant.

I had already seen this a little over a year ago, and I wasn’t overly impressed. But I was forgiving because I thought that I simply didn’t get the humour the first time around. So I watched it again, in the hope that I would appreciate it more this time around. Well, it turns out that there isn’t much humour to get; not even the contrasting dramatic piece serves to highlight what should have been a romantic comedy. In fact, watching storyteller Wallace Shawn spew his enthusiasm for the side-splitting “humour” of his scenario made me want to climb into the film and clobber him.

To make matters worse, the cast simply does not gel. None of the dynamics really work and none of the performances leap off the screen – asopposed to what one might expect from Allen’s films. Furthermore, Will Ferrell is completely out of his depth in this film, being completely incapable of inhabiting his character naturally and with sincerity; he should seriously stick to less demanding material.

So it turns out that I like ‘Melinda and Melinda’ even less than I did the first time around. Frankly, I can see very little reason to return to it, aside from wanting to revisit Woody Allen’s overall oeuvre. It’s not a bad film, per se, but it’s uncompelling – and there are at least a couple dozen Woody Allen films to watch before seeing this one.

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