Melinda and Melinda

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Melinda and Melinda
Review (5.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)


Melinda and Melinda is director Woody Allen's latest work that begs to answer the question "is life comic or is life tragic?". We are introduced to a group of friends having dinner and two playwrights in the group (played by Wallace Shawn and Larry Pine) debate this essential question. They each give their own version of a story that centres around a woman named Melinda (Radha Mitchell) and the comic version and the tragic version of the story is played out in the movie. In one version of the story, Melinda is an old college friend of Laurel (Chloe Sevigny) who shows up unexpectedly at the doorstep of Laurel and her actor husband Lee (Jonny Lee Miller) and interrupts their life. In the second story, Melinda is a neighbour of filmmaker Susan (Amanda Peet) and her out-of-work husband Hobie (Will Ferrell) who suddenly bursts into their lives with her multitude of problems. Both stories involve lies, deception, alcohol, adultery, dinner parties and pretty much anything else that we don't want to see happen in our own everyday lives. Yet one story remains tragic and one remains comic.

I must point out that I am not a fan of Woody Allen. I have only ever seen one other Woody Allen movie in my life (that I can remember) and at this moment, the name of that movie escapes me (which says a lot about the movie and my brain). Melinda and Melinda has not done anything to change my opinion of Mr. Allen. I neither like nor dislike him, just like I never liked or disliked Melinda and Melinda, but that might just be the fault of the movie. It is neither a happy nor a sad movie. In fact, it is probably equally both. The characters are probably more dislikeable than not. They are not all adulterers, but even the ones that are not do not have any hugely redeeming qualities. Perhaps the only thing I got out of Melinda and Melinda was a bit of a newfound respect for Will Ferrell. I've never been a Will Ferrell fan but he was one of the few consistently funny and somewhat likeable characters in the movie and he managed to do so without running around naked and yelling, "We're going streaking!".

With all that being said, I have to conclude that Melinda and Melinda is a movie that should appeal to a very specific crowd, that being the sophisticated Woody Allen fan base that would prefer to chuckle here and there throughout a movie about dinner parties, jazz music, adultery and unhappy people. I can't quite say Melinda and Melinda did anything for me except give me hope that perhaps somehow, someday I might understand this whole Woody Allen craze.

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