Woody Allen, a twenties reporter and Archie Andrews: movies and TV (#SFWApro)

If Woody Allen’s Anything Else remade Annie Hall, WHATEVER WORKS (2009) similarly remakes Manhattan with its December/May romance. Here it’s dour intellectual Larry David in the Woody Allen role reluctantly taking in Southern runaway Evan Rachel Wood, then winding up married to her. Given David isn’t much younger than Allen (in contrast to Jason Beggs in Anything Else or Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris) I wonder why Allen didn’t play the role himself. I’d probably have preferred it: Allen’s own ineffective persona would have softened the character’s constant lectures on the Meaning of Life and reminders of how brilliant he is (not that you can tell from the lectures), whereas David’s just overbearing. Wood, though, is spot on as a Southerner; Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr. play her parents, who get implausible happy endings. “If you throw me out and I wind up an Asian prostitute, it’s going to be on your conscience.”
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(All rights to poster image reside with current holder)

MAN OF THE CENTURY (1999) is an oddball comedy about Johnny Twenties, who speaks, dresses and acts like a crack reporter from the roaring twenties — or at least the kind of reporter you’d see in a movie from that era — to the bemusement of everyone around him and the sexual frustration of his girlfriend, who can’t understand why the furthest Johnny will go is a peck on the chief. This should have flopped as badly as an expanded Saturday Night Live sketch comedy, but in its own goofy way it completely worked for me. “Theodore Dreiser—he was Dr. Seuss, right?”

RIVERDALE is the latest attempt to incarnate Archie Andrews and his gang for TV (quite aside from various cartoons, there’s a 1990 movie, To Riverdale and Back Again) but it didn’t work for me. The template is Pretty Little Liars or Twin Peaks (depending on your POV, I guess) with Riverdale a town riven by secrets and scandal (the classic soap Peyton Place wouldn’t be far off the mark either): Cheryl Blossom’s brother Jason died mysteriously, Archie spent last summer getting it on with Mrs. Grundy (younger and hotter than the comics), Veronica’s father is caught up in a criminal trial that might ruin him, etc. Not to my taste, which is not to say that it isn’t good, or might not click with the rest of the audience; given that Josie and the Pussycats are at Riverdale High, I wonder if Sabrina’s going to turn up, which would be more interesting (answer: yes). “Jason was captain of the football team,  but how will he be remembered?”

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