RECOMMENDED: With the surprise success of Midnight In Paris — which turned out to be Woody Allen‘s highest-grossing film ever — you can hardly blame the man for going back to the well for To Rome with Love, another postcard movie with a distinctly Woody spin. (See also: Vicky Christina Barcelona.) It’s a great little formula, when you think about it: Find a magical, romantic place in Europe, load it up with a cast of more or less A-list actors who are just happy to get a Woody film under their belts, add in the Woody rom-com-caper-type script, and voila. If our take on this is sounding cyncical, perhaps it’s only because it’s almost infuriating how easily taken in we are by these feather-light, sweet movies.
About that cast: It’s Woody Allen, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin as John, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page, along with a nearly equal-size cast of Italian stars, with the effect being that the various strains of romantic confusion never get too bogged down with any one subset of actors. So, for instance, if you, like us, saw the preview of this and were like, “Jesse Eisenberg? Ellen Page? Bummer!,” don’t worry; though they get a fair amount of screen time, there’s a lot more going on here. (Although you will be asked to view Page as a sultry sex object, which is frankly a bit much, Woodster.) The “more” takes a two main forms: Built-in homages to Fellini in the form of the slapstick-absurd (Benigni!) and the absurd-absurd (Alec Baldwin pops in and out of scenes like a Casper The Friendly Ghost only Jesse Eisenberg can see), and the city of Rome itself — the sights and cinematography here are worth the price of admission alone. All in all, it’s no Midnight In Paris, but it’ll do… until Woody In Prague or whatever the next one is.
ALSO NEW IN THEATERS: The Amazing Spider-Man, which is already out and stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone; Katy Perry: A Part of Me, a vanity rock doc designed to make you believe Ms. Perry is in possession of a human soul and is viewable in some locations as a 3D film (not joking); and Savages, the new Oliver Stone movie about pot growers that will have to work pretty damned hard if it wants to be funnier than Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.