Woody Allen’s most conventional picture in years is being touted as a
real return to form, and I suppose that’s true. His previous effort, Celebrity, was the worst Woody since Mighty Aphrodite (and probably longer than that), so Sweet and Lowdown certainly looks good in comparison. I have to admit, though, that I enjoyed the playful Everyone Says I Love You and the feisty, combative Deconstructing Harry
enough to rate them more highly despite the fact that the auteur was
shamelessly pillaging his own back catalog on both occasions.
This big-budget version of the well-liked 1960s TV series (which I’ve never seen) smells like something cooked up by a talent agency that still thinks a film is just the sum of its thespian parts. Stars Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, and Sean Connery may seem well-positioned to breathe life into a tongue-in-cheek action pic derived from these most stylish, rough-and-tumble icons of British urbanity, but who thought that director Jeremiah Chechik (1996’s atrocious Diabolique) and screenwriter Don MacPherson (Absolute Beginners) were the ones to pull it off?