She’s Funny That Way Screen 15 articles

She’s Funny That Way

2014

She’s Funny That Way Poster
  • It’s the spirit of classic screwball comedy that Bogdanovich is really after, as he reminds us in many telegraphed knowing asides. There are fewer laughs to be had, however, and the clip from Cluny Brown (1946), Ernst Lubitsch’s final film, shown during the final credits, only illustrates the panache that’s lacking.

  • If only the title of “She’s Funny That Way” were true, then maybe this creaky throwback padded with Hollywood names and fake accents could be forgiven its many failings. But there’s barely a whiz-bang punch line or smoothly executed setup to be found in a movie that longs to be a sparkling bedroom comedy and winds up a tortured, fizz-free farce.

  • What it’s missing is any playful sense of truth: Hollywood’s greatest screwball comedies, even at their daffiest, hum with pointed, perceptive sexual politics. Here, the bumper-car series of romantic collisions is entertaining enough, but viewers aren’t invited to root for any two characters’ union or separation: No relationship in the film is especially distinct from another.

  • The problem is that even though the absurd jigsaw comes together, the picture it produces is arbitrary, and the finale lacks energy. This isn't Bogdanovich yearning to tell a particular story. This is Bogdanovich re-energising a beloved old genre and pulling in some great and charming connections to do so. This is an in-joke of a film that relies upon formulas that were old before any of its stars were born.

  • This is Bogdanovich's first fiction feature since the 2001 The Cat's Meow, and he's clearly trying to recapture some of the gone-bananas energy of earlier pictures like What's Up, Doc? But before long, the story's mechanics become wearisome and all too visible. Plus, even though the picture takes place in a chattery, vibrant, highly moviefied version of New York, in 2015 you can't — or shouldn't — have even a fantasy vision of New York in which people of color are essentially invisible.

  • Too many times the characters in this movie sprint across the line separating quirky charm from know-somethingish affectation, and then stay on the wrong side of it. And this erodes the sunny farcical tone to which “She’s Funny That Way” aspires. It’s as if somewhere along the way this wannabe champagne got spiked with eager-to-please bennies.

  • I wish I could report to you that this proudly old-fashioned screwball comedy was a return to form for Bogdanovich... He still has an eye for classical compositions and an ear for the cadences of bygone comic genres. She’s Funny That Way often displays an old-school generosity and polish, and at least one breakout performance — but just as often, its moments of inspiration are tempered by miscasting and shrill attempts at humor.

  • This is a shrink farce stuffed inside a boudoir farce stuffed inside a backstage screwball comedy — think the Marx Brothers at a department store with a broken elevator. The whole movie is tantrums and meltdowns and pitiful nostalgia — at some point, even for Bogdanovich’s own fine performance as Dr. Melfi’s therapist on The Sopranos. And yet every once in a while, something funny will happen.

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    Sight & Sound: Samuel Wigley
    June 05, 2015 | July 2015 Issue (pp. 86-87)

    For all its lusting after Lubitsch, She's Funny That Way feels closer – eerily so – to a late Woody Allen movie... As with some late Allen, there's a snow-globe airlessness – a detachment not just from the modern day but from a sense of real lives... The film is a weightless anachronism, but as weightless anachronisms go, a far from unwelcome one.

  • Fans of Bogdanovich’s earlier work will know this director understands that in comedy, anticipation can be every bit as funny as shock – and the whole film, really, is an hour and a half of comic foreplay, with ticklish mini-climaxes and much blundering into wrong rooms at right moments sprinkled throughout.

  • While it's tempting to fixate on the facets of modern Big Apple life that are missing from this decidedly concentrated portrait, it's more fulfilling to look at what _is_ there: a vision of the privileged class as a comically insular world, and its recognition of the idea that the paths taken by the privileged to reach their seemingly perfectly upheld lives haven't necessarily been any less fraught with self-denied compromise and regret than those of less fortunate city dwellers.

  • The deliberate over-casting brings to mind Woody Allen... But while Bogdanovich lacks Allen’s gift for writing and structuring jokes, he tends to be less hands-off with actors; unlike in Allen’s later films, everyone here appears to be acting in the same movie. That movie is broad, occasionally clunky, sometimes funny, scattered with poignant grace notes, and, in its own peculiar way, endearing.

  • A running joke about squirrels and nuts doesn't have much traction, but it pays sweet homage to a favorite movie by the great Ernst Lubitsch. Bogdanovich has thrown in cameos for buddies and another ex, all of whom you'll be pleased to see whether or not their presence is justified. A fond reference to Breakfast at Tiffany's feels similarly tossed off, but that's part of the movie's raffish charm.

  • The rat-a-tat repartee and frantic gyrations of Peter Bogdanovich’s neo-screwball comedy are an alluring front for his rueful, sordid observations of a life in art.

  • Remarkably, the script manages to build momentum while holding all the pieces together in a fast-paced comedy that never feels overburdened by neither its jokes nor its plot twists. Every vignette is carefully crafted within brilliant lines and rhythmic narrative maneuvers. Simplicity is the film’s strength as Bogdanovich reinterprets the fine art of entertaining using his encyclopedic knowledge of cinema and love for one of its main ingredients: humor.

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