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Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

What She said:

She

I don’t think I’ve seen too many Woody Allen movies. I’ve always known that they probably wouldn’t resonate well with me.  And so, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to seeing Midnight in Paris, although the premise did seem pretty harmless. 

Here are the basics, Owen Wilson plays Gil, as lost soul who travels to Paris with his fiancé, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her family.  For Inez and her family, Paris is a light vacation masked as a business trip.  But for Gil it’s all about finding himself and moving professionally from writing screenplays to novels.  Creatively and spiritually Paris is for him.  While everyone around him seems so superficial, Gil yearns for more—he wants to live in a different era with friends that capture his interests—and through some feat of magic, that’s what he gets in Paris.

I’m not sure if it’s the mystical, alcohol, or drugs that allow Gil to time travel, but that’s what happens.  Every night at midnight, he gets into an old car and travels back to the 1920s, the era that he believes he was built for.  He also gets to meet famous artists and writers like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí.  At the same time, he falls in love with the beautiful Adriana, who is searching for her own fulfillment in life.  As Gil becomes more and more obsessed with traveling to the past he begins to lose touch of the realities of the present and his already failing relationship with his fiancé deteriorates even further.  He’s forced to choose between the successful life he has or the exciting and more gratifying life he yearns for.

I always find Owen Wilson’s characters to be pretty charming and likable.  In Midnight in Paris he’s sort of more of same.  Yeah, he does some bad stuff here and there, but you’ll get behind him.  Inez and her family are so extremely unlikable, that you’ll want to root for Gil.  Here’s the thing, though, I couldn’t get over how staged it all felt.  I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone as purely superficial as Inez, and so I can really only see her character as a plot device.  She’s only there so that we will want Gil to succeed in his daydreaming.  In fact, most of the present day characters are really horrible. 

Allen clearly has a theme he’s pushing with this film—that too often we believe that we’d be more happy if we lived in another time.  But as Gil learns, not everyone in the 1920s is happy, and Adriana herself dreams of being in a simpler era.  I guess the point that Allen is trying to make is quite true.  But isn’t it better to let us dream about the possibilities? 

The acting in this movie is decent, although it’s got a whole lot of Gilmore Girls syndrome going on.  Everyone talks fast, is quite clever, and has a quick rebuttal for everything.  Perhaps it’s just me, but I struggle to have an intelligent conversation more than once a week.  These people are always in high gear. 

Nonetheless, I enjoyed seeing Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, and Dalí come to life.  Perhaps unrealistic, but Hemingway embodied the exact stereotype that we’ve all come to understand him as.  The film was a rather painless diversion, but not one of my favorites.

Thumbs up for Woody Allen fans.  For everyone else it could be a little annoying.

What he said:

He

I’ve never seen a Woody Allen movie all the way through. I have seen bits and pieces of them over the years, but they have never really held my interest long enough for me to want to pursue them any further. I get that his shtick is that of a neurotic worrywart, but that’s never really been something that begs to be watched if you ask me.

However, the premise of this movie grabbed my attention and I hoped it would get me past the mopey characters of his other movies. Long story short, it’s about a struggling writer (Owen Wilson) who discovers that he can travel back in time through various eras of Paris, France (he’s currently vacationing there with his fiancé and future in-laws). During his midnight adventures he meets many famous writers, artists, and other creative souls.There are a couple of funny lines here and there. Seeing him interact with all the different historical figures can be mildly amusing, but it simply wasn’t enough. Outside of that, I didn’t find it to be very funny.

And Woody Allen’s style simply isn’t for me. His characters are not somebody I care about or want to follow for a long time. I can do the whole nervous/whiny thing if it’s amusing, but I simply find his characters to be boring. I don’t want to watch them, because they give me nothing to work with.

If you’re a Woody Allen fan, you may appreciate this. If not, you’ve been warned.

Rating: Thumbs down.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on January 29, 2012.