Written by Peter Bogdanovich and Louise Stratten / Directed by Peter Bogdanovich / Starring Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Jennifer Aniston and Rhys Ifans
Director Peter Bogdanovich has been making films for nearly fifty years. Back in the ’70’s he made such classics as THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and PAPER MOON. His films from the ’80’s and ’90’s were received mildly so the auteur began to direct less and moved into acting, notably playing Dr. Elliot Kupferberg on The Sopranos. Now, fourteen years since his last narrative film, Bogdanovich returns with the delightfully nostalgic SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY.
The film follows Izzy (Imogen Poots), a hooker with a heart of gold, who is trying to make it as a stage actress. Izzy’s services are paid for by director Arnold Albertson (Owen Wilson) who is in NYC to direct a new play by Joshua Fleet (Will Forte). Izzy ends up auditioning for the play, to Arnold’s surprise of course, and ends up getting the role, in which she will act opposite Arnold’s wife Delta (Kathryn Hahn). Enter snarky lead actor Seth Gilbert (Rhys Ifans) who saw Izzy leaving Arnold’s hotel room the morning after and who also happens to be in love with Delta. To make matters even more insane, Joshua falls in love with Izzy, whose therapist (Jennifer Aniston) happens to be his girlfriend.
SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY plays a lot like Bogdanovich’s 1972 film WHAT’S UP, DOC? and many of Woody Allen’s screwball films from the ’70’s. In that sense the film carries with it a great sense of nostalgia throughout. This resonates through Bogdanovich and co-writer/ex-wife Louise Stratten’s screenplay through their dated references and familiar laughs. This could be due to the fact that the film has been gestating for many years, but I’d prefer to believe that it is just Bogdanovich recalling a time in which he was looked upon as one of American cinema’s most promising directors.
Bogdanovich has assembled an incredible cast for this truly hilarious and delightful film. He even manages to squeeze in bit parts for stars of the past such as Cybil Sheppard and Tatum O’Neal. The film’s six leads are equally skilled and charm their way through this light and fluffy film. While Bogdanovich may be a bit behind on the times, it is great to see a film that attempts to revive the humour of decades past and succeeds.