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Alia Shawkat

'Wild Canaries' sings an old suspense-comedy tune

'Wild Canaries' sings an old suspense-comedy tune

Attempting to capture the screwball essence of the old-school suspense-comedy, most blatantly Woody Allen's "Manhattan Murder Mystery," Lawrence Michael Levine's flighty "Wild Canaries" lacks the filmmaking discipline required to pay effective homage.

When an elderly woman dies suddenly in her Brooklyn apartment, her nosy upstairs neighbor (Sophia Takal) immediately suspects foul play and ropes her initially dubious, neurotic fiancé (Levine) into playing detective, with predictably sticky results.

While it's a time-honored premise — even that 1993 Allen caper took its cue from "The Thin Man" movies — this talky, choppily...