Deconstructing Harry (Woody Allen) - 1997

Woody is a neurotic writer again in this movie with writer's block.  He keeps running into some of his fictional characters including Robin Williams who is always out of focus, devilish Billy Crystal who once ran a Hollywood studio, and an ax murderer (Hy Anzell 1923-2003).  And as usual, Woody's character has a lot of trouble with ex-wives and girl friends.  Everyone in the movie seems to have a potty mouth including Woody who sometimes seems to be mumbling the f-word.  The basic plot involves a road trip to his former college where he is slated to get a lifetime achievement award for his writings.  His companions for the trip include a hooker, his kidnapped son and a friend (Bob Balaban) who is not at all well.  The trip does not go well and one point Woody takes the elevator to hell to rescue his former girl friend (Elizabeth Shue) from the devil (Crystal).  The elevator operator identifies the denizens of the lower floors including lawyers and right-wing radio hosts.  Another clever scene is the Star Wars themed bar mitzvah.  It is sometimes hard to separate reality from fiction but the ride is fun with many of Woody's film devices. Annie Ross delivers an excellent version of Joni Mitchell's Twisted for the opening and closing credits. [JAM 8/17/2010]

["... he's a writer with writer's block - that immediately disqualifies me - who is willing to kidnap this kid, something that I lack the courage to do; sits home and drinks; has problems in his life; has hookers come to his house every night; his mother had died in childbirth.  It just wasn't my life.  It was a fictional character I made up.  I tried to get somebody else to play it - I tried to get everybody else to play it.  But I knew if somebody else played it they'd say it was me anyway.  Still, I thought it could be played better than I could play it.  I first went to Robert De Niro.  I went to Dustin Hoffman.  I went to Elliot Gould.  I went to Albert Brooks.  I spoke to Dennis Hopper.  I couldn't get anyone to do it for one reason or another.  One person wasn't available, one person wanted too much money, somebody else didn't want to play it because he thought he was too young.  Finally, maybe less than two weeks before shooting, I said I'd play it." Conversations with Woody Allen - January 2000]