March 14, 2012

50 years ago, in a standup comedy routine, Woody Allen sketched out the idea...

... that would become the much-loved 2011 movie "Midnight in Paris":

(Via Kyle Buchanan.)


CJinPA said...

I'm pretty ignorant of much of the context involved in this routine, but I still love a well-done bit and appreciate how he plays on the audience's anticipation.

LordSomber said...

Anyone have an egg salad recipe?

Damon said...

Totally overrated movie. Bored out of my mind watching it. My wife wanted me to run to the store before it closed, so I left halfway through. I didn't complain and I never went back to see how it ends.

Bad casting of Owen Wilson, and totally predictable plot.

tim in vermont said...

I agree with Damon. I wanted to love it and insisted this was the one we would see that night.

There were some funny bits with Kathy Bates as Stein, and one hilarious discussion of a painting, but mostly, it was just dull and predictable.

Geoff Matthews said...

I liked the movie more than the routine.
I agree that Owen Wilson isn't a good actor, but I he didn't ruin the movie.

ricpic said...

Change much loved to mildly appealing and you'd be in the general vicinity of the truth about this tepid flick.

Chef Mojo said...

Really, who really gives a flying flip about this guy? His main claim to fame is being the American Polanski in the worst sense of that term.

He is held in awe by a certain generation because they were expected to. After all, all the really bright, hip people dug on him. New Yorkers in particular, as he embodied the self-centered angst they perceive as meaning in life.

A decent journeyman filmmaker capable of a bit of humor. A lousy asshole as a human.

The Coen Brothers did with a single movie of theirs - pick one. Any one. - what Woody Allen has been incapable of doing his whole career.

Lem said...

I knew the rotunda poem reminded me of somebody and I could not put my finger until now.


Matt said...

Damon & tim in vermont

Don't blame the movie for it being overhyped.

Think about it. Woody Allen made the movie. He didn't make the hype that accompanied the movie. The marketing folks did and then came audience word-of-mouth.

Most of us go into movies with expectations not open minds. So if you end up not liking a movie because of your expectations then you should start by blaming your expectations.

Judge a movie as a movie.

That said, I saw the movie the week it opened in a packed theatre and it was great. The crowd loved it. If you saw the movie on DVD or Blu-Ray then that is a very different experience.

ricpic said...

Hey Matt, some of us know what we like and know what we don't like. The fact that your ear is always out for what others say is YOUR problem not ours.

Matt said...


When someone says a movie is 'overrated' that is a sign that they are mainly reacting to the hype rather than to the movie.

Saying it is ‘overrated’ is not a criticism of the movie. It is a criticism of the critics or the marketing companies or the people who hyped it.

Most people fall for marketing hype. It happens because it is almost impossible to escape. As a consequence many viewers have a backlash reaction against overhyped movies. Nothing wrong with that. I'm just trying to clarify where the blame should be directed.

Woody Allen did not make a movie to be overrated or to be hyped so much that it causes a backlash. He simply made a movie. Some liked it some didn't. Fair enough.

paul a'barge said...

Paris is much loved.

The movie is great if you watch with the volume on mute.

And Woody is a piece of crap.

paul a'barge said...

If you saw the movie on DVD or Blu-Ray then that is a very different experience

very Different?

Different, maybe. But Very? That's just complete nonsense. I smell a poseur.

Steve Koch said...

I saw the movie, it was ok, nothing great but not bad. Woody thought the central idea of the movie was really cool. To me, it wasn't an amazing idea but it was an adequate device to allow the movie to move into different eras.

Woody's biggest problems as a director are that he isn't very funny anymore, his dialogue sucks, and he cannot direct actors. The actors end up sounding preachy and stilted, not natural.

Tank said...

In the context of what Allen's movies are like, it was a light fun romantic movie. Better th an I expected.

Unknown said...

Watching the Hemingway scenes in the movie was as cringe-inducing as reading "Across the River and Into the Trees". The rest of the artists and writers were done just as badly.

To call the protagonist's fiancee and potential inlaws cardboard cutout cliches would add least two dimensions to their characters.

My wife wanted to see me to see it with her. I did it for love.

Paul Kirchner said...

Woody Allen wrote a short story called "A Twenties Memory" that presaged "Midnight in Paris." It appeared in an early collection of his short stories, "Getting Even."

I was disappointed in the movie. The concept was intriguing, but Allen wasn't up to writing anything interesting for the famous characters to say. Hemingway just did Bad Hemingway.

Robert R. said...

"His main claim to fame is being the American Polanski in the worst sense of that term."

If I could insert an eyerolling emoticon I would. Woody Allen may be many things, many not complimentary, but he's not a rapist. That's the worst sense of that term.

rcocean said...

Midnight was a nice little movie that only be appreciated if you know something about 1920s Paris.

Its really only remarkable in that Owen Wilson plays Woody Allen better than Woody Allen.

rcocean said...

And I've never understood the whole "Woody" is a pervert crap. The guy fell in love with Mia's 18 year old Korean (adopted daughter). He wasn't married to Mia, and Soon-yi was adopted kid #42, so its not she and Mia were really daughter and mother.

Not to mention that Soon-yi has been (as far as we can tell) happily married to Woody for 15 (?) years.

Yeah, its kinda pathetic the guy couldn't do better than Soon-Yi but he was married to Louise Lasser. He obviously has self-esteem issues.

Matt said...


Yeah but the issue is not a clear cut one. If Woody had fallen in love with some random young woman who was 35 years younger than him that would be one thing. But Woody fell in love with a young woman who happened to be the [adopted] daughter of a woman he had been dating for many years. That leads to all kinds of sticky questions both potentially legal and moral.

I can understand Mia being upset about it - and not just out of jealousy.

Paddy O said...

Woody Allen let me watch it before it was released. I told him it was a good movie, not a great movie, but it could be a fine movie. We laughed about it.

Owen Wilson punched me in the mouth.

TheFunkyDonutMan said...

@Paddy O
you are the thing without feathers.

CWJ said...

So late to the party. As usual. But Chef Mojo's comment nailed it. I like Woody Allen's work, and this movie, but the Coen brothers work is SO much better at covering anything real outside of New York.

cassandra lite said...

Althouse, you couldn't be more wrong. Allen intended the movie to be taken seriously, even as comedy, but it was as worthy of ridicule as his bit.

The bit was the inspiration for the contest sponsored in the 70s by Harry's Bar for "a page of bad Hemingway." In the bit, Allen was parodying Hemingway (and the others, back when people read), who'd just died a year or two before.

The movie, on the other hand, was claptrap and less deep than was this bit. In the movie, the characters who the Allen character (Owen Wilson) is seduced by are intended to be taken seriously; thus his staying in Paris. When Hemingway talks in the movie, you think any moment that he's going to burst out into laughter at his own ponderousness. But no.

The only thing the movie and the bit have in common is the names of the characters.

Ann Althouse said...

@Lem Thanks. That's a big compliment. I don't know why I attempted that. It's not normally my thing. You should hear some of what Meade does with little poems. But he likes a little audience too, most an audience of one. I wish it could be seen, how good he is!

Ann Althouse said...

Most should read mostly.

tim in vermont said...

" that only be appreciated if you know something about 1920s Paris"

Wow... So my problem is that I don't know Zelda Fitzgerald from Marty McFly?

I love people who assume ignorance on the part of those who disagree with them.

Tank said...

For those who seem to think the movie was "serious" or that Allen wanted the characters to be taken seriously - doesn't seem like you watched the same movie I did.

The whole thing with the characters was campy, tongue in cheek style comedy. I did not think it was "laugh out loud" comedy, but rather, smile the whole way through. Hemmingway was the best - every time he came on I smiled - how could anyone think that Allen was portraying him seriously? Weird.

Just a light funny farcy kind of thing that was easy to take, and Wilson plays like a younger better looking Allen, which seems to be the point.

tim in vermont said...

"For those who seem to think the movie was "serious" or that Allen wanted the characters to be taken seriously - doesn't seem like you watched the same movie I did."

No, I am pretty sure it was meant to be funny, and as I said, it was in parts, only parts involving Kathy Bates come to mind, but it was predictable, and it wasn't the hype for this movie that led to disappointment, it was my love for movies like The Purple Rose of Cairo and A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy that led to my disappointment.

Tank said...

This is why my wife and I are hesitant to just accept other people's opinions on movies, shows, restaurants, etc.

It's not that they are wrong, it's just that YMMV. Obviously, some people here didn't like it or were unimpressed. We enjoyed it, and heard the same from friends who like WA. So, YMMV.

madAsHell said...


I listened to the whole thing, and never saw his lips move.

Rusty said...

Hemingway just did Bad Hemingway.

Was there ever any good Hemingway? Really?

Steve Koch said...

The norm is that comics become less funny as they get older. More generally, it is common to see creative people become less creative as they get older.

I did a very little research on this topic and it appears that forced conformity decreases creativity. As people age, they tend to conform more and more with society's norms. This tends to reduce their creativity.

Children tend to be wildly creative before they start school but that creativity gets hammered out of them at school as they are forced to turn themselves into good little automatons that behave properly.

Forcing academics to conform to PC thinking must have a negative impact on their creativity. An academic atmosphere where people are encouraged to be free wheeling in their self expression and thinking (rather than constantly censoring themselves to make sure they don't inadvertently say something that is not PC) would increase creativity.

rcocean said...

"Wow... So my problem is that I don't know Zelda Fitzgerald from Marty McFly?

I love people who assume ignorance on the part of those who disagree with them."

Wow, "Tim in Vermont" you need to get over yourself. How do you know my comment was directed at you?

William said...

Paris looked like a postcard. It was very pretty and clean. It looked just the way you hoped it would look. The characters from the twenties were also postcards. They looked just the way you wanted them to look....It was a pleasant movie and offered the viewer a chance to admire Paris, artists, and their own intelligence for admiring Paris and artists. Bonus points for the nasty caricature of the Republicans.

Trevor Johnson said...

Not sure about Tim and Damon's use of 'predictable'. A very overused word. You can't really have 'predicted' what would happen in this film, not that anything much happens to predict. Surely you mean humdrum or uninspired?