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With: Alan Alda, Woody Allen, Drew Barrymore, Lukas Haas, Goldie Hawn, Gaby Hoffmann, Natasha Lyonne, Edward Norton, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Tim Roth, David Odgen Stiers
Written by: Woody Allen
Directed by: Woody Allen
MPAA Rating: R for one use of strong language
Running Time: 101
Date: 12/06/1996
IMDB

Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Singing Woody

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You is a musical. Most people are not used to musicals and don't like them much. We seem to have grown out of them, which is sad. I've been watching some of Vincente Minnelli's (An American in Paris, The Band Wagon work lately, and I've come to realize that musicals are an indispensable form of American cinema. What goes better with the audio and visual than Music and Dance?

At the same time, Allen is one of America's greatest treasures, a great filmmaker, a great comedian and a great artist -- but he's no Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. Allen knows this. The purpose is not to show off trained vocalists, but to get to the hearts of the songs.

He has cast a few actors who can sing: Goldie Hawn, Tim Roth, and the breakthrough new star Edward Norton (also in Primal Fear and The People vs. Larry Flynt). The others -- himself, Alan Alda and Julia Roberts -- sing only a little bit, and then so humbly that you can't help but be charmed by them. (Sadly, Drew Barrymore's voice was dubbed.) As for the dancing, the stars step out of the way so that the professional extras can take over. One scene in particular, a dancing scene between Goldie Hawn and Allen, is very funny and magical.

In any case, this musical is amateurish, but painless. You have to give Allen credit for completing it after James L. Brooks chickened and cut the musical numbers out of his I'll Do Anything two years ago.

The simple, silly plot concerns a rich family who lives in New York. Alan Alda and Goldie Hawn play a couple with four kids, one of which, DJ (Natasha Lyonne, who narrates), is the daughter of Woody and Goldie from a previous marriage. Drew Barrymore is another daughter plans to marry Edward Norton, until she meets escaped con Tim Roth. The other two daughters are Natalie Portman and Gaby Hoffman. They also have a son played by Lukas Haas. One of the best running jokes in the movie concerns him and his increasingly radical Republican leanings -- until it's revealed that his ideals are caused by a brain tumor.

Woody is separated from the family and lives in Paris, where he tries to woo Julia Roberts with the help of his daughter, who has been listening in on Julia's therapy sessions and knows all her secrets. That's basically it. It's very romantic, and nearly every character falls madly in love with someone. Plus there's lots of funny Woody Allen jokes.

Allen regular Carlo DiPalma, who also shot the now classic Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), provides the film's lovely cinematography, boasting vintage shots of New York, Paris and Venice during all four seasons. The movie plays a little like Hannah, taking place over a year's time. There's also a tribute to Groucho Marx, just like in Hannah.

Allen is one of America's greatest filmmakers, but probably not one of its most challenging. Challenging we leave to Robert Altman and the others. Allen is here for the most part to give us great entertainments like the Marx Brothers' and Cary Grant's films, the kinds of films we seem incapable of making anymore. Everyone Says I Love You won me over completely.

DVD Details: Miramax's DVD comes with previews, chapter selections and not much else. It's an early pressing, so the quality is variable. It's currently out of print.