Wonder Wheel (2017): Woody Allen’s Swan Song (Review)

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Despite having Oscar winning Brit actress Kate Winslet on board,  along with fellow Brit performer Juno Temple, Wonder Wheel feels too much like Woody Allen’s swan song in the world of film. Set in 1950’s Coney Island, the film, written and directed by Allen, is part nostalgic remembrance of a by-gone era and part semi-autobiographic nuance.

Despite a stellar cast that includes Jim Belushi and Justin Timberlake, Wonder Wheel is sheer drudgery on celluloid. It is difficult to watch and bogs down repeatedly in several areas. The dialogue, complete with heavy accents and stilted delivery, feels forced and overdone.

Timberlake sounds like he is doing a Woody Allen impression, while Belushi; who is loaded down with an awkward character and dialogue that is   old fashioned and more suited to a amateur dramatics society than a huge film, struggles to make his Humpty feel real.

Humpty (Belushi) is a carousel operator at Coney Island. His wife Ginny (Winslet) has a boy from another marriage and is a former “actress.” Carolina (Temple) is Humpty’s child from his first marriage and she is on the run from her husband; a gangster.

Mickey (Timberlake) is narrator of the film and a lifeguard who is having an affair with the older Ginny. He meets, and falls for, Carolina. The end result is a messy-ish love triangle that ends in tears for all involved.

All these characters are shallow and somewhat two dimensional. Humpty is built up to be a real punch-happy ogre when he drinks. Yet, when he does hit the sauce, never lives up to his billing. Carolina is trying to escape her hoodlum husband and Ginny lives in the past.

The only part of the film that feels legitimate occurs when Ginny describes how she feels about working at the clam house at Coney Island. The unhappy woman, who suffers from migraines, explains that she is playing the role of waitress at the eatery. It is the one moment of truth in the entire film.

There are parts of the film that can be seen as autobiographical. At one point Ginny tells Humpty that he treats his daughter like his “girlfriend” and that when she “dump’s him” again he will be miserable. A little too close to something that one can image Mia Farrow saying to Woody Allen in real life.

None of the characters in the film are likable. We do sympathize to some degree with Ginny; burdened with a son who is a firebug, but none of these people come across as real. Each relationship seems forced and laborious. Wonder Wheel seems more like a stage play than a film.

The actors all either over-act or “under” act. Belushi never really seems to have a handle on Humpty and Winslet goes all “Blanch Dubois” when Woody’s alter ego Mickey, chooses the wrong skirt in the last half of the film.

Wonder Wheel  is not an enjoyable film to watch. While Woody Allen has managed to deliver consistently on his “niche” films, this time he comes up short. The tale is not up to par with his past works and one wonders if perhaps the filmmaker should not hang up his pen and camera.

Winslet manages to make the most of her drama queen role as Ginny and Temple shines equally well as the mixed up youngster who married poorly. Belushi and Timberlake are miscast and the film itself limps to an unsatisfactory conclusion.

Wonder Wheel is a shaky 3 star film that annoys rather than entertains. Give this one a miss…It really does feel like Woody Allen’s swan song.

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Sid Caesar the Curtain Closes on a Comedy Giant

Sid Caesar the Curtain Closes on a Comedy Giant

Sid Caesar is dead at 91 and the curtain has softly closed on a comedy giant. Although giant is perhaps not a large enough term to refer to a legendary figure who, through his live comedy programs, seemed to have invented the forerunner to the TV sitcom. The comic, and comedic genius, had been ill for a year before his death on Wednesday February 12. Stars and other comic icons have come forward to speak of their sorrow at the trial blazer’s death and also to talk of his ability to connect with audiences in a way that made them “roar with laughter.”

Mia Farrow Vs Woody Allen Via Dylan Farrow

Mia Farrow Vs Woody Allen Via Dylan Farrow

The trouble with doing dirty laundry in public is that no one ends up with a clean result when the washing is done; in the Mia Farrow vs Woody Allen via Dylan Farrow there will be no winner. Mia Farrow is holding onto a 21 year-old grudge; Dylan Farrow was either abused or, at the very least, believes she was and Woody Allen will wind up tarnished by the claim that he “messed” with his 7 year-old adopted daughter.

Woody Allen Daughter Tells of 21 Year Old Abuse…Again

Woody Allen Daughter Tells of 21 Year Old Abuse…Again

Woody Allen is one of the fair haired icons of Hollywood, but, not everyone is a fan; for instance, his daughter is telling the world about sexual abuse that happened over 21 years ago…again. Dylan Farrow is 28 years-old and is the jointly adopted child of Mia Farrow, a member of the Hollywood elite and Woody Allen. The 78 year-old film auteur and Farrow got together as a couple back in 1980; the two had a relationship that lasted till 1992. Their twelve year partnership, during which time the two never married, ended quickly and dramatically when Mia found nude pictures, taken by Allen, of one of her adopted children Soon-Yi Previn who was about 20 years-old at the time. In the same year that Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi was made public, Dylan Farrow made allegations that her adoptive father had sexually abused her. In a 2013 Vanity Fair feature about Mia Farrow and her extended brood; Mia, Dylan, and the other children mentioned the alleged abuse.

Woody Allen Golden Globe Tribute Marred by Child Sex Claims

Woody Allen Golden Globe Tribute Marred by Child Sex Claims

Woody Allen may be a legend in the entertainment industry, but, his Golden Globe Tribute at the 71st annual awards event was marred by child sex claims from his estranged son. Although, his former partner Mia Farrow only hinted at the claims on her Twitter account. Allen Mia, who is a Hollywood legend in her own right, were a couple throughout the 1980′s until they separated in 1992. The two were romantically involved, but, never married. Woody and Mia adopted two children, neither one of which was Soon-Yi Previn, whom Allen declared his love for in the same year that he and Farrow broke up.