Review of To Rome With Love


So Woody Allen continues his European wandering, this time taking on four stories centered around love, infidelity and fame in a very gorgeous-looking Rome. Only the problem is the stories are so slight, and the comedy so unfunny, that the whole experience becomes mind-numbing.

This is the first time that the neurotic Allen has gone in front of the camera in a while and it helps because he gives himself all the jokes that actually hit the mark. He plays Jerry, a former music director headed to Rome with his wife (Judy Davis) for the marriage of his daughter (Allison Pill) to an Italian lawyer (Flavio Parenti). Upon staying with his new in-laws he finds that the lawyer’s undertaker father (Fabio Armiliato) has a tremendous operatic voice, but the joke is, only in the shower.

Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) is an American living happily with girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig) before her very-sexualized actress friend Monica (a very miscast Ellen Page, from “Juno”) tempts him into infidelity. A confusing aspect of this storyline is that Alec Baldwin pops up in the strangest of places to give Jack advice. The condensed way the story is told makes Baldwin appear sort of like Jack’s ghostly conscience, except somehow Monica can see and hear him to so, what i’m saying is, it didn’t make sense to me.

Roberto Benigni (“Life is Beautiful) plays an ordinary clerk who one day wakes up to discover he’s magically become a media celebrity.

And in story number 4, Penelope Cruz plays a call-girl who mistakes a recently married man (Alessandro Tiberi) for her next appointment and winds up being mistaken for his wife by his uncle, whom he is trying to earn a promotion from. Meanwhile his real wife (Alessandra Mastronardi) has gotten lost and finds herself being wooed by an Italian movie star (Antonio Albanese).

The only thing that really stands out here is the background; the ruins, beaches, architecture and all the surrounding Rome-ites looking wonderful. You just wish this story and these characters would get out of the way as Woody keeps cutting between these sit-com-like premises. The shower storyline is a joke that seemed so old my mouth was open more from shock than from laughter. The Jack-Monica storyline basically tells you where it’s going and plays it about as safe as you can get. If you can laugh at the public being fascinated with Benigni shaving or his wife’s run stockings, then you’ll find some cuteness there. I didn’t. And the Penelope Cruz story-line basically bores whenever she’s not on camera. Eisenberg plays a younger neurotic Woody Allen, Benigni plays the Italian neurotic Woody Allen (which is more annoying ironically), and Penelope Cruz plays sexy in a red dress. Allen has had success with this whole Europe thing, “Match Point” and “Midnight and Paris” chief among them, but “To Rome with Love” seems like nothing more than an excuse to film in a beautiful location.