DVD Review: She’s Funny That Way

“She’s” sort of funny that way.

Peter Bogdanovich is a renowned screenwriter and director in his own right (“Paper Moon,” “The Last Picture Show,” “What’s Up, Doc?”), so it’s curious why in his latest film he seems to be doing his best Woody Allen impression. (Except that all of the female characters are over 18 and nobody gets murdered halfway through the movie.)

“She’s Funny That Way” is a throwback to old screwball comedies, in which every single thing that can possibly go wrong, does.

Arnold Albertson, a haughty Broadway director played by Owen Wilson, casts his call girl, Glow/Isabella (Imogen Poots) as a call girl in his latest play that, of course, stars his wife, Delta (Kathryn Hahn), and her former lover, Seth (Rhys Ifans). Throw in Glow’s disgruntled former client, a judge, his private eye, who happens to be the father of the playwright, Joshua, (Will Forte) and Joshua’s girlfriend, Jane (Jennifer Aniston), Glow/Isabella’s accidental therapist.

Surely, you can guess that this scenario is a recipe for disaster.

Wilson does his laconic best as a cad with a call girl addiction, who thinks he is doing the world a favor by giving every prostitute in his wake $30,000 to do something else with her life. He does this for Glow after their first and only encounter and when Seth sees Glow leaving Arnold’s hotel room, he uses it as ammunition against Arnold since he still carries a torch for Delta. Ifans is deliciously malevolent as a slimy British actor, and Hahn is sweetly shrill as she finds out many things she does not want to know.

Jane’s mother is both the judge’s therapist and Glow’s but she has gone abroad to “dry out,” leaving her practice to daughter Jane, a woman with anger issues and a lack of grip on reality.

The plot is absurd, which makes it fun and also extremely stressful. You wouldn’t want to be any of these people, except for maybe the call girl-turned-movie star. “She’s Funny That Way” is told in flashbacks and framed by an interview between Isabella — a now-world famous actress, we are told — and a snooty Manhattan film critic.

As if the overstuffed plot isn’t distracting enough, the British Poots, who is perhaps a very lovely actress in other circumstances, tries on a thick, Brooklyn accent and the result is a garbled mess of elongated vowels and dropped Rs, with her natural English Rose accent seeping in more often than not. Just because the Australian actress Margot Robbie succeeded in mastering the difficult accent in “Wolf of Wall Street” doesn’t mean everyone else should try.

There are also several cameos — we thought a chauffer looked like Vanity Fair Editor-in-chief Graydon Carter and it turns out we were right, the question is, Why? And there is a blink-and-you-miss-her appearance by Tatum O’Neal, Michael Shannon as a cop, and, of course, no bloated mess of a film would be complete without an appearance by Quentin Tarantino.

“She’s Funny That Way” is a good way to kill time if you like feeling anxious for 90 minutes and only laughing for a couple of them.


Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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