From the Chicago Reader (January 1, 1997). — J.R.
This creepy Woody Allen musical (1996) has got to be the best argument ever against becoming a millionaire. It unwittingly reveals so many dark facets of the filmmaker’s cloistered mind that one emerges from it as from a crypt, despite the undeniable poignance of some of the musical numbers (the best of which hark back to Guys and Dolls in displaying the vulnerability of the amateur performers). This isn’t only a matter of how Allen regards the poor, nonwhite, sick, elderly, and incarcerated segments of our society, how he feels about the ethics of privacy, or what he imagines his rich upper-east-side neighbors are like. In this characterless world of Manhattan-Venice-Paris, where love consists only of self-validation and political convictions of any kind are attributable to either hypocrisy or a brain condition, the me-first nihilism of Allen’s frightened worldview is finally given full exposure, and it’s a grisly thing to behold. With Goldie Hawn, Alan Alda, Drew Barrymore, Lukas Haas, Julia Roberts, Tim Roth, and Natalie Portman. R, 101 min. (JR)