(director/writer: Woody Allen; cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro; editor: Alisa Lepselter; cast: Timothée Chalamet (Gatsby Welles), Elle Fanning (Ashleigh Enright), Selena Gomez (Chan Tyrell), Liev Schreiber (Roland Pollard), Jude Law (Ted Davidoff), Rebecca Hall (Connie), Diego Luna (Francisco Vega), Cherry Jones (Gatsby’s Mother), Kelly Rohrbach (Terry), Ben Warheit (Troller); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Erika Aronson, Letty Aronson; Perdido Productions; 2019)

“Seems like a retread of all of Allen’s comedies, but not as funny.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Woody Allen  (“Zelig”/”Bananas”) is the auteur of this slight contemporary comedy that seems like a retread of all of Allen’s comedies, but not as funny. Amazon Studios shelved the project in 2018 after signing him to a lucrative four-film deal. The reason Amazon changed their mind is over an unresolved pending law suit filed back in 1992 that accused Mr. Allen of sexual assault by his 7-year-old daughter, Dylan. Allen and the studio are currently embroiled in a $68 million battle over the cancellation. This has done significant damage as to the film’s release, where it was forced to open in Poland and later at the Deauville American Film Festival in France and not New York.

The WASP scion of plutocrats, Gatsby Welles (Timothée Chalamet, donated his entire salary from the film to charity), Woody’s alter ego, is an aimless Manhattan resident, who is a student at the fictional upstate New York Yardley college (sounds like a cologne). The compulsive gambler wins thousands of dollars playing poker, and is dating the wealthy, pretty, preppy, journalism major at the college, Ashleigh (Elle Fanning). She’s a ditz, even though a serious-minded careerist and was a pageant queen in her hometown of Tuscon, Arizona. The guileless Ashleigh is in Manhattan to interview the famous De Sica-like movie director Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber), who is in the middle of an existential crisis.

On her NYC visit, Gatsby promises to wine and dine her in the Big Apple. Meanwhile the naive Ashleigh gets involved with the confused director and with the unfaithful Connie (Rebecca Hall), the wife of his producer Ted Davidoff (Jude Law), and a famous Hollywood predatory heartthrob Francisco Vega (Diego Luna) who tries to seduce the coed journalist. Gatsby reacts angrily to being stood up and walks the midtown streets in the rain, where he ends up meeting the seductive actress Shannon (Selena Gomez), the little sister of a girl he used to date, and ends up making a short film with her friends.

The jokes are hard to come by. The one that made me laugh the most was Gatsby telling Shannon that his girlfriend is from Tuscon and she replies: “What do you guys talk about? Cactus?” If this was the best one-liner, don’t ask about the others!

The plot is inconsequential, the supporting characters are not developed and the comedy had no edge. Some of the supporting characters like the sex worker (Kelly Rohrbach) are hired by Gatsby to impersonate Ashleigh, Gatsby’s mom  (Cherry Jones) is around to be mocked for being an elitist and making her son so neurotic, and Gatsby’s school chum Troller (Ben Warheit) lays on us some weak lines about relating the name “Ashleigh” to Ashley Wilkes from “Gone With the Wind.

Everything felt tiresome.  It’s the 83-year-old Woody mailing it in to meet his quota of making one film a year.

REVIEWED ON 1/4/2020  GRADE: C   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/ 

REVIEWED ON 1/4/2020  GRADE: C   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/

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