<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Starring Imogen Poots, Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hahn, Rhys Ifans, Will Forte, Illeana Douglas, Cybill Shepherd, Austin Pendleton, George Morfogen, Debi Mazar, Richard Lewis
With the feel of a Woody Allen film but lacking the tight script and crisp editing, She’s Funny That Way has an old world charm but ends up being a bit of a farcical mess at times.
She’s Funny That Way feels like it was made in the 80s. This is actually a good thing. It’s simple, funny, has some great actors and makes you feel nostalgic for a time when films were good even without a lot of CGI and super heroes flying around.
At the start of the film, Isabella or Izzy (Imogen Poots) is talking to a reporter about how she was discovered and the incident, or rather series of incidents that lead to her acting career taking off. She used to be a muse i.e. call girl, and on one fateful night as she was wined and dined by a theatre director called Arnold Albertson (Owen Wilson) she got an offer she couldn’t refuse. No, not to act in his play, but to leave the call girl business and pursue her dream. In exchange Arnold would give her $ 30,000 to start afresh. No strings attached. Sounds like a Pretty Woman ending, only right there, at the beginning of the film.
Very soon, Isabella turns up on his stage for a part in a play, which just so happens to star his wife Delta (Kathryn Hahn) and her co-star and ex-lover Seth (Rhys Ifans). And thus starts a ‘screwball comedy’ in which Izzy is seeing a shrink (or a shrink’s daughter to be precise) and the shrink Jane Claremont (Jennifer Aniston) is seeing the playwrite Joshua (Will Forte) and Joshua’s father is a private detective trying to hunt down Izzy who used to call girl for an old judge who is infatuated with her and is also seeing the shrink. And that’s only half of the puzzle.
Characters bump into each other and fall over one another in a sometimes enchanting and often slapstick way. This is a farce and it’s all supposed to be that way. But the problem with She’s Funny That Way is that it’s not as clever and crisp as you’d expect it to be considering it juggles so many relationships and interplays. The parts where all the women who Arnold has given $ 30,000 to follow their dream come out of the woodwork to thank him are pretty fun.
Imogen Poots and her Noo Yawk accent do grate on the ears at times but she’s mostly pretty endearing once you get to know her. Jennifer Aniston’s character does seem a tad out of place at times but she’s good in every scene. There are some cameos by big actors here and there, which don’t really add anything to the scenes but make you realise that the director is certainly a man admired in Hollywood. But is this his best work? Probably not.