I miss old films with screwball parts.
They made us smile and won our hearts.
But farces now are seldom made.
How sad this fun began to fade!
Nostalgia fans can stop their cries.
Bogdanovich has heard our sighs.
She’s Funny That Way gives us hope.
We laugh at how the people cope.
Weird connections fill the screen
as characters have to come clean.
They must admit to flaws and all
while waiting for that curtain call.
Aniston nails the shrink from Hell.
Poots, in lead role, performs quite well.
Wilson’s guy cheats on his star wife.
And so begins the hectic strife.
The great Bard said the play’s the thing.
Bogdanovich adds his own zing.
Director and co-writer (with Louise Stratten) of She’s Funny That Way, Peter Bogdanovich loves movies -- and he’s made some wonderful ones. Paper Moon, The Last Picture Show, The Cat’s Meow, What’s Up Doc? come to mind. But he’s also responsible for a couple of duds. I was fortunate to attend a “Conversation Session” featuring this talented filmmaker at the Telluride Film Festival a few years ago. Bogdanovich, a fabulous storyteller, isn’t afraid to admit his shortcomings. Joking about mistakes of the past, he confessed his arrogance after the success of The Last Picture Show. “I decided to make a musical even though I knew nothing about them,” he said. “When Gene Kelly called me up and offered to help me, I turned him down because I thought I could handle it. Well, of course At Long Last Love flopped miserably.”
She’s Funny Like That isn’t a dud -- nor one of Bogdanovich’s best efforts either. It’s simply an entertaining farce reminiscent of those old screwball comedies I miss so much. I enjoyed watching how all the characters become connected with each other -- and the amusing messes they create. Plus, I love Bogdanovich’s homage scenes to Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Cluny Brown.
All cast members seem to be having fun with their roles, especially in the play rehearsal scenes. Imogen Poots (That Awkward Moment) gives a delightful performance as the call girl-wannabe actress with an obsessive client (Austin Pendleton) and an admiration for Audrey Hepburn. Although her Brooklyn accent may be off-putting to some, I think she sounds great. Owen Wilson (No Escape), as the philandering stage director, fails to earn our sympathy -- even with his character’s generous call-girl charity -- but he’s very believable. Kathryn Hahn (The D Train) shows a wide range of emotion as the director’s wife, already a star. She goes from dignified to unglued in the blink of an eye! As her ex-lover and matinee idol, Rhys Ifans (Serena) doesn’t look the part, but his expressions throughout the film are priceless. Will Forte (Nebraska) makes us care about his playwright character, a man under the thumb of a bitter psychiatrist (Jennifer Aniston), who just happens to be the call-girl’s AND her obsessive client’s therapist. Once these people become aware of how they are connected, who knows what will happen?
May the Farce be with them!
(Released by Lionsgate Premiere and rated “R” for some language including sexual references.)
For more information about She’s Funny That Way, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.