Toto: Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris' Flatters France, Batters U.S.


Good piece today by Christian Toto in the Washington Times on Woody Allen’s critical darling “Midnight in Paris.” I found the film to be quite the disappointment; as Toto notes, Allen takes a bludgeon to America and the Tea Party, but more irritating still is that–aside from the eye candy–the movie is basically one joke repeated over and over from beginning to end. Aside from a couple of very funny scenes with the talented Michael Sheen, the premise runs thin within the first 45 minutes. The payoff is also a letdown. Furthermore, the pompous underlying theme is that Allen equates today’s crop of artists with history’s all-time greats. Is Allen subtly suggesting he is the Hemingway or Fitzgerald of our time? Well, he’s not not suggesting it.

[I]n finding artistic and commercial renewal across the pond, Mr. Allen often has flattered European vanities by ogling the sights of their storied capitals with his camera. Unfortunately, in “Midnight,” he also has pandered to European stereotypes of the Ugly American.


The cross-cultural comedy concerns a burned out Hollywood screenwriter named Gil (Owen Wilson) who hopes a trip to France will inspire him to finish his novel. Gil fantasizes about Paris in the 1920s, a time when artistic giants such as Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter and F. Scott Fitzgerald roamed its streets.

One mysterious car ride later, Gil finds himself magically transported back to the Lost Generation golden age of his daydreams.

“Midnight in Paris” taps into a timeless American attraction to the City of Light as a cultural beacon, a place even ordinary artists can visit and emerge reborn. Throughout the film, Mr. Allen treats the city’s creative minds, native and transient alike, as intellectual titans.

Yet, in paying tribute to the artistic and historical glories of Paris, Mr. Allen gratuitously sneers at his own country. Mr. Wilson‘s character is engaged to a shallow, materialistic American played by Rachel McAdams, a shrew whose parents are even more distasteful to Mr. Allen.

They belong to the tea party, for crying out loud.

Full article here.


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