If it's a zinger capped by the phrase "leper colony," if there's a hotel room being broken into by house detectives, if it's Penelope Cruz spilling out of an outfit borrowed from Mira Sorvino in "Mighty Aphrodite," then it's time for the new Woody Allen film.
His latest overseas postcard, "To
Allen's casting prowess remains unparalleled, wherever his projects are shot. Many tales compete for the frame here. In one,
In another, Roberto Benigni is the husband and father who inexplicably becomes the object of paparazzi lust and unwarranted fame. In a third, writer-director Allen and a deeply mannered Judy Davis play parents visiting their daughter (
"To Rome With Love" knows that strain all too well, particularly in the plotline involving the mousy provincial couple (Alessandro Tiberi and Alessandra Mastronardi) who are separated in Rome and through a series of mistaken identifies and misunderstandings end up in the arms of others. Two of the arms belong to Cruz's call girl.
The movie strolls through its paces, sometimes amusingly, though by the end you've heard "Volare" and "Arrivederci Roma" reprised often enough to make you wish "Volare" and "Arrivederci Roma" had never been written. The actors make the trip as pleasant as possible. At the end of the Benigni episode, Allen's thoughts on the burden and peculiarity of celebrity are laid out neatly: Fame is a drag, but it's preferable to remaining "poor" and "unknown."
Never has Allen sounded quite so one-percenter about his place in the world. Then again, he never claimed to be otherwise. Early in the film, in a line distilled to precisely the right number of words to make the joke land, even in 2012, his character says: "I was never a Communist. I could never share a bathroom."
'To Rome With Love' -- 2 stars
MPAA rating: R (for some sexual references)
Running time: 1:52