Fox Searchlight Pictures | Release Date: March 18, 2005
6.0
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Mixed or average reviews based on 53 Ratings
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Positive:
25
Mixed:
19
Negative:
9
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5
VinceH.Apr 22, 2005
Despite what you may have heard, this is not the "big" comeback Woody fans have been waiting for. It certainly has a better idea at its core and is more overall entertaining than his last few films, it is still nowhere near Woody at his Despite what you may have heard, this is not the "big" comeback Woody fans have been waiting for. It certainly has a better idea at its core and is more overall entertaining than his last few films, it is still nowhere near Woody at his mid-late 90's run of great films (beginning with Manhattan Murder Mystery up to Deconstructing Harry, excluding Celebrity). My main problem with this movie is the story itself. The Melinda stories are just really lazy and not that interesting. The tragedy? Melinda comes back to NYC to stay with her friends after mysterious circumstances. The comedy? A guy falls in love with his downstairs neighbor Melinda after trying to hook her up. That's it folks. The long dialogue scenes are boring and unoriginal and unexciting. There are a few funny lines from Hobie but overall this is very dissapointing. I give it a 5 because of the beautiful NY photography (courtesy of the great Vilmos Zsigmond, who bathes the entire city in either an gorgeous amber orange or a lovely sunny sheen), the as usual great jazz soundtrack, and the performance from Chiwetel Ejiofor, who outshines the other actors so much it's embarrasing. Expand
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5
DanB.Mar 20, 2005
I hate to give Woody a bad review, but the movie's not so good. It's both a comedy and a tragedy. The problem is the tragedy half is not so tragic, and boring to boot. The comedy half is pretty amusing - Will Ferrel does a I hate to give Woody a bad review, but the movie's not so good. It's both a comedy and a tragedy. The problem is the tragedy half is not so tragic, and boring to boot. The comedy half is pretty amusing - Will Ferrel does a surprisingly good job as the Woody surrogate - but that's not enough to make the movie recommendable to anyone who is not intent on watching everything Allen makes. Expand
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4
TonyB.Jan 3, 2006
Although it has an interesting premise, there is really only one reason to see this film, and that is Radha Mitchell's performance, one of the best of the year.
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5
LeeD.Apr 16, 2005
Decent acting and moderately interesting at times, but Melinda and Melinda feels trapped by its gimmick. Better than his other recent efforts- The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, anyone?- but tragically flawed.
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4
MarkB.Apr 28, 2005
Woody Allen's latest exercise not only doesn't have enough good material for ONE Melinda let alone two, but it's questionable wthether there's enough on hand for just a Linda...or even a Mel. Its central conceit is that Woody Allen's latest exercise not only doesn't have enough good material for ONE Melinda let alone two, but it's questionable wthether there's enough on hand for just a Linda...or even a Mel. Its central conceit is that the same basic set of incidents happening to the same character can be interpreted as either a tragedy or a comedy depending on the point of view and treatment. Allen's basic take seems to be the tried-and-true bromide that "if it happens to me, it's tragic; if it happens to you, it's funny as hell"...which has some undeniable truth to it but as a philosophy of drama OR of life comes across as shallow, selfish and mean-spirited. More to the point, the tragic incidents in Melinda and Melinda just aren't especially moving and the comic ones just aren't funny. Woody's failure to pay off is a real shame because he's demonstrated on multiple occasions that he can mix the two seeming opposites effortlessly: Annie Hall, Manhallan and Hannah and Her Sisters included unforgettably poignant overtones, while Interiors had some delightful comic moments (courtesy mostly of Maureen Stapleton) and his last flat-out masterpiece, 1989's Crimes and Misdemeanors, was a stunningly perfect, unforgettable blend. Part of the difficulty this time around lies in the acting: I thought Radha Mitchell (who plays both Melindas) was one of Finding Neverland's greatest strengths as J. M. Barrie's neglected, quietly suffering wife, but I wonder now if I saw more at the time than there really was: she's certainly pretty, and has a 24-karat smile, but in all three of these roles she plays extremely passive characters the same way: extremely passively. Will Ferrell, as an infatuated neighbor in the comedy, is acceptable and certainly happy to be "doing a Woody", but looks like he's reining himself in: he does what the Woodman tells him to do, but looks to me like he can't wait to break loose and inhale several bowls of heavily sugared cereal or do a nude run. Amamda Peet, as Ferrell's unappreciative wife, is more impressive: nobody plays superficial, one-dimensional women with more heart and spunk than Peet. The ever-increasing "been there, done that" aspect of Allen's recent films doesn't help matters much: I'm surprised Allen's characters do so much entertaining, because if I had Santo Loquasto designing MY home in the same fussily overelaborate style he does ALL the homes in Allen's films, I'd never invite ANYONE over for fear someone would spill beer on a $6000. end table. (But then, I guess Allen's people don't drink beer.) I'll give Allen credit for ever so slightly varying his musical repertoire: amidst all the jazz tunes and standards, he actually includes a record by somebody who hit the Top 40 in the last thirty years! Ultimately, Allen's central problem these days is that he's churning 'em out entirely too fast: this is his sixth film in seven years with his last really good effort, Sweet and Lowdown, having been released in 1999. Making allowances for all the obvious differences in filmmaking eras and production methods, costs and other factors, one of the few film directors beyond Hollywood's Golden Age that compares with Allen in sheer speed of output is the early 1960s Roger Corman--and with a couple of excellent Poe movies and the original Little Shop of Horrors to his credit at that time, Corman had a notably higher level of artistic success than Allen has had lately! Allen needs to realize that one first-rate film every three years or so is more than worth three mediocre or substandard efforts in a comparable period. The fact that he apparently can't or won't is what makes up the REAL tragedy here. Collapse
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5
J-ShapOct 10, 2011
Melinda and Melinda is not a particularly bad film, but just a limp one. In many ways, that's worse. The switching between a comic and tragic interpretation of the same movie keeps afloat with thought, but the film itself is rather empty, andMelinda and Melinda is not a particularly bad film, but just a limp one. In many ways, that's worse. The switching between a comic and tragic interpretation of the same movie keeps afloat with thought, but the film itself is rather empty, and neither story is particularly strong on its own. Expand
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5
SpangleFeb 2, 2017
Released in late 2004 in Europe, but early 2005 in America, Melinda and Melinda stands as a testament to the change that was afoot in Woody Allen's career. After this film, he took off to Europe and began filming in various vacationReleased in late 2004 in Europe, but early 2005 in America, Melinda and Melinda stands as a testament to the change that was afoot in Woody Allen's career. After this film, he took off to Europe and began filming in various vacation destinations across the continent. One of the last few New York City shot Allen flicks (Whatever Works and Cafe Society would later represent brief returns to the city he loves), Melinda and Melinda is a mixed bag. Touching on typical Allen themes, the film poses the question: is life more tragedy or comedy? Set during a dinner conversation between two playwrights, one a comic writer and the other a tragedy writer, both pose theories based on a story offered by a mutual friend. The setup: a couple is hosting a dinner party and a woman randomly shows up at their door. The two playwrights envision two entirely scenarios in which a woman named Melinda (Radha Mitchell) knocks on the door of a dinner party unexpectedly. One goes tragically and the other turns comedic. Which is the actuality of life and better captures the likelihood of the mystery behind this girl?

In the tragic tale, Melinda is a woman damaged. After cheating on her husband, killing her lover, and losing custody of her children, she shows up at the front door of a couple, Lee (Jonny Lee Miller) and Laurel (Chloe Sevigny), as they entertain. Now, this couple are people she knew in college and had planned to stay with months ago, but a suicide attempt on Melinda's part got in the way. While with them, she meets and falls for a musical man named Ellis (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Unfortunately, things do not work, Lee and Laurel's marriage falls apart, a lawyer she consults cannot help her with her custody case, and Melinda winds up wanting to kill herself. By the end, Laurel resolves that Melinda will always need help. In this section, the tragedy is quite clear. Her life is horrible, though some is self-inflicted. Much of this section falls flat comedically, however. As a Woody Allen film, one would expect some more comedic lines, but there is nothing here. I looked for comedy here simply because the tragedy seems so ineffective. Melinda is unlikable and probably brought all of this on herself by killing a man in cold blood and cheating out of boredom. She is unsympathetic and not a good main character. The first half of the film heavily focuses on this story unfortunately and Melinda here is simply not easy to like. While the acting here is great, especially by Mitchell in a scene where she spills her heart and past to Ejiofor, little works until she meets Ejiofor. When the two are together, the film really does click and the tragic playwright finds some magic in the darkness.

In the comedy section, Melinda arrives at the home of Hobie (Will Ferrell) and Susan (Amanda Peet). As Allen is a comedy writer, this section really zips at times, especially in the second half. A damaged woman who arrives after having downed 24 sleeping pills, the section quickly becomes charming as she as Hobie begin to fall for one another. Fearing hurting his wife, Hobie consults best friend Walt (Steve Carell) as to what he should do. Fortunately, the feeling is mutual between he and his wife and they have an awkwardly easy split where the duo just agree it is over. Now free to chase Melinda, the duo fall in love after spending some time with other people - Melinda with a regular guy who is quite nice and Hobie with a Republican Playboy mode. Ending on a happier note, the section is largely quite witty with Ferrell playing the Woody Allen character. It is funny throughout with Ferrell delivering good Elf-like performance in regards to the innocence and authenticity of his character. He plays the neurotic man quite well and delivers the witty and smart lines with ease. When this section takes focus, Melinda and Melinda is at its most enjoyable and is often incredibly funny, mainly because it plays to Allen's strengths as a writer/director.

A film about whether life is more tragic or comedic, the answer is simple: it is both. The film very clearly shows that tragedy does not work quite as well without some comedic lightness to liven it up and comedy lacks stakes or the final bit of punch without some tragedy. Comedic possibilities are introduced in the tragic storyline and vice versa, but never explored because of the defined focus of the storylines. The end result is an interesting concept, but with two sections that do not work quite as well as intended and prove that tragedy and comedy need each other to work. In isolation, the duo tend to just tread water.
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