Hey hey, Woody Allen’s still around! Better yet, still kickin’ it cinematically. Okay, I’m probably sounding like he doesn’t make movies anymore, which isn’t true. He did last year’s IRRATIONAL MAN, and I really liked it. I won’t claim to be Allen’s biggest fan or anything, as there are plenty of his films that I haven’t seen, but I usually enjoy his work when I get around to them. They’re always weird, quirky, and heavy on Jewish puns. Any other director would get castrated for it, but Allen made a career off of it, so he get’s that eternal “get out of jail free” card. Also, he seems to have fallen in love with stories about older men scoring younger women. Bet that’s probably not an accident if you know about the man’s personal life. But I’m not here to talk about that drabble. I’m here to talk about movies (I’ll save the gossip for TMZ, aka: journalism’s shameful black sheep).
I gotta say, I was pretty excited for this movie. I love Jesse Eisenberg (minus BATMAN V SUPERMAN), I have no problems with Kristen Stewart, and ever since Steve Carell left his idiot characters behind and went a more dramatic and legit route, I’ve loved his work too. Yeah, there was quite a bit that I was loving at first glance. But how did it hold up? Was the this cafe society just a pretentious load, or was it glamorous? This is my honest opinion of CAFÉ SOCIETY.
Set during the 1930’s in Hollywood. Desiring a change of pace from his home in New York, young Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) sets his sights to Hollywood. Specifically, he seeks out his powerful Hollywood agent Phil (Steve Carell), for a job. But being so new to the city, he doesn’t know anyone to show him around. Cue Phil’s lovely young assistant, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). As time goes on and the two spend more time together, Bobby becomes quite taken with Vonnie, who learns to love Bobby too… despite the fact that she’s already in a committed relationship. After learning that Vonnie has chosen to be with the other man, he returns home heart-broke and attempts to start a new life.
DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately, a good chunk of everything worth talking about is spoiler-related. I suggest reading this review only if you’ve seen the movie or, God forbid, you don’t care about spoilers.
The first ten minutes, which is unbearably lacking in humor, is not a good representation of the rest of the film, which is loaded with sharp and intelligent humor and overall continues Allen’s reign of enjoyable films.
Actors: Eisenberg is back to form in his trademark “adorkable” role that he’s perfected over the years. Funny enough, it’s commented on by Vonnie a couple of times in the movie. So at least Allen’s casting director went with the obvious when Allen wrote this. Seriously, Eisenberg should do a Woody Allen biopic. He’d be perfect.
Stewart, yes, is great as well. There are plenty of scenes with her struggling with her feelings toward both Phil and Bobby. The movie seamlessly gives us plenty of time to get to know Vonnie. She’s a smart girl, not overly ambitious. She’s kind-hearted, but it’s clear that due to her youth, she isn’t always certain of what choices to make and freely admits it. But she’s clearly always thinking about it and doesn’t jerk anyone around when a choice needs to be made. And when she makes one, she commits to it, no matter what regrets she may have in the end.
Carell? Fantastic. I want to see him play the funny, entitled asshole more often. Actually, his role feels like a funnier version of his role in THE BIG SHORT. Phil is a powerful, yet charismatic guy. Certainly a workaholic and pretty much only cares about his job. If there’s anything he loves more than his job, is Vonnie. It should be easy to hate the guy and think that he’s a detestable person for having an affair on his wife that even he admits passionately is a wonderful wife to him, but you see his predicament and almost feel sorry for him. Almost. Personally, I think if a person is willing to cheat on their spouse, they shouldn’t be married to anyone. But yeah, that’s a whole ‘nuther subject to talk about. Point it, Carell is great, he was worth the price of admission alone.
Hey, want a good laugh? Because the more I thought about it, the more I started to love this movie. Did anyone get the impression that this was basically TWILIGHT as directed by Woody Allen? I mean, fuckin’ think about it! It’s Stewart in a love triangle between an older and younger man… she falls for the older man first… goes for the younger guy when the older guy leaves her for a time… then when the older guy comes back, and she chooses to be with him for the duration of the story. I can stretch it even further if I really wanted to get creative. The older guy works with the stars of Hollywood… stars? They… sparkle? Ha ha. The younger guy has a large tight-nit family… almost like a… pack? Heh, all we need now is a sequel an older Bobby having an affair with a barely legal daughter of Phil and Vonnie’s. It’s hilarious how many similarities I came up with and even more hilarious how much of an improvement this was. Of course, considering how “high” the bar was set, it wouldn’t take much effort to out-beat TWILIGHT. Oh, I’m sure all of this is a huge coincidence and Allen’s never seen, let alone know anything about, the Twilight franchise, but it’s still funny to make this observation.
Due to how much I’ve tickled myself over this, I’ve decided that I love this film and how this solo, stand-alone flick is infinitely better than the Twilight franchise as a whole, it’ll stand the test of time as a story with far richer characters, a much more endearing story, and superior enjoyability. Go in with this mindset and it’s a real hoot.
Yeah, sure, I do think some plot points don’t contribute to the overall story, like anything involving Bobby’s older mob brother Ben (Corey Stoll – which a head full of hair… took some getting used to…), but even that stuff is so much fun it almost doesn’t matter. I think if you’re a fan of Allen’s work, you’ll do alright watching this one. It’s no ANNIE HALL, but it’s still very enjoyable and very funny.
My honest rating: 5/5
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