Everyone Says I Love You
Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Woody Allen, Goldie Hawn, Alan Alda, Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, Edward Norton, Tim Roth, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman. (1996, R, 101 min.)
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Jan. 17, 1997
A feeble attempt to recreate the magic of the movie musical, Everyone Says I Love You is a post-modern throwback to those films in which characters spontaneously burst into a song and danced their hearts out whenever the mood hit them. The trouble is, director-screenwriter Allen – who seems to be in a creative rut these days – has made the mistake of emulating the less-than-stellar examples of the genre, forsaking both plot and character development seemingly in favor of staging clever song-and-dance numbers that could easily exist outside the celluloid confines of this film. Everyone Says I Love You ostensibly chronicles the romantic travails of a bunch of well-to-do, intellectual Manhattanites (the only focus group Allen can apparently focus upon), all to the tune of vaguely familiar popular standards. With the exception of Roberts and Allen – she must be tone-deaf, he confuses croaking with singing – the cast performs these musical numbers without too much embarrassment, especially when you consider that none of them (with the exception of Hawn) has any training or experience in this area. (The fact that only Barrymore’s voice was dubbed speaks volumes about how totally lacking her singing talents must be.) Yet, while certain of the film’s artifices induce a smile – store-window mannequins, funeral-parlor ghosts, and Gallic Grouchos contribute to the musical merriment, and there’s a wonderful lighter-than-air *pas de deux* on the banks of the Seine – there’s still something terribly facile about the whole thing. Allen’s writing continues to get lazier and lazier: Characters’ emotions flip on and off like light switches, and turns in events occur without rhyme or reason. His jokes aren’t that funny anymore, although the occasional one-liner can still zing like the best of them. The preoccupation with rich, uninteresting, New Yorkers continues to distance his audience from his work more and more with each movie. (When was the last time you heard someone say, "Remember our first Christmas in Paris?") And his narcissistic insistence on having beautiful, young women tell him – er, his character – how great he is in bed is getting downright twisted. Though its title entices with the promise of sweet flattery, Everyone Says I Love You is really not much more than a calculated fib.