Monday, October 22, 2012

Woody Allen, What Hath You Wrought?: "You Stupid Man" (2002)

They are here: beautiful New Yorkers who never work and have great one-liners at the ready; characters who think of themselves as the centers of their respective universes. The only thing missing from "You Stupid Man" is the opening credit "a Woody Allen film" and the work of a Swedish cinematographer.

New Yorkers Owen (David Krumholtz) and Chloe (Denise Richards) have a fairy tale love cut short by Chloe's departure to the west coast to star in a brainless sitcom. Owen discovers on a surprise trip that she's also sleeping with her well endowed co-star, and suddenly Owen's alone. Owen tries a blind date with Nadine (Milla Jovovich), which turns into a disaster. Their second meeting is not much better, and Owen gets into an argument with Chloe at the wedding of their mutual friends Jack (Dan Montgomery) and Diane (Jessica Cauffiel).

Nadine and Owen finally find common ground- they are both trying to get over recent painful break-ups, and the two become quick best friends. As Jack and Diane's relationship crumbles and Owen's brother Brady (William Baldwin) sleeps with any woman he can, Owen still clings to the perfect ideal love he had with Chloe, blind to Nadine's changing feelings.

Would it help to know that writer/director Brian Burns is the brother of film maker/actor Edward Burns? Now I'm not saying Burns set out to copy Woody Allen, but if you are going to shoot a comedy about neurotic New Yorkers and their love problems, you are inviting comparison.

This does not mean "You Stupid Man" is a disaster. Despite Owen being an annoyance of the highest degree, Krumholtz does an admirable job of wringing just a bit of nice out of him. Richards has no problem playing a brain dead shallow actress, and the rest of the cast is okay, although Baldwin's role feels very trimmed, and I never believed he and Krumholtz would pass for brothers for a second. Jovovich is nothing but great as Nadine, bringing a very good emotional range to an otherwise mono-emotional screenplay. She has a smoldering "are you fucking kidding me?" look every time Krumholtz opens his mouth that had me grinning.

A couple of scenes stand out here and there but I kept asking myself over and over again why anyone should care about these characters? I wanted everyone to tell Owen to get over himself by the end of the film, he falls in and out of love more often than Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry combined. No one really works, job wise, the New York City locales are there, as is the navel gazing and self-analytical try and not look for Woody Allen's name in the credits.

"You Stupid Man" is not a stupid movie, but it sure made me want to rent "Manhattan" next... (* *) out of five stars.