She’s Funny That Way
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Writer: Peter Bogdanovich, Louise Stratten
Cast: Imogen Poots, Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Rhys Ifans, Jennifer Aniston, Will Forte, Jennifer Esposito, Michael Shannon, Lucy Punch, Illeana Douglas, Cybill Shepherd, Richard Lewis, Austin Pendleton, Tatum O’Neal , Joanna Lumley, Quentin Tarantino
Seen on: 2.9.2015
Isabella (Imogen Poots) is a rising star and as such, she gives an interview about how she made it big: how she met director Arnold (Owen Wilson) when she was working as a call girl, how he offered her a lot of money that she may be able to follow her dreams and stop working as a call girl; how they ran into each other at an audition the very next day; how Arnold’s wife and lead actress Delta (Kathryn Hahn), her co-star Seth (Rhys Ifans) and writer Joshua (Will Forte) were immediately taken by her acting talent; and how she got the job, including the ensuing awkwardness.
She’s Funny That Way could have been a charming, old-school screwball comedy, but unfortunately it was a little too boring to really be charming or funny.
The whole plot gets rolling because Arnold gets a kick out of saving sex workers – and there we already have one of the big issues I had with the film: while they do get it right that the whole “saving sex workers”-business is not about the sex workers but rather about the people doing the saving, I was incredibly annoyed by the gratefulness of all the women Arnold has done this with/for. While I agree that it is nice to get offered a ridiculous amount of money (100.000$ if I remember correctly) to follow your dreams, couldn’t one of those women have said, “no, thanks, I’m doing exactly what I wanna be doing” or “fuck you and your savior complex” or even “yeah, I took the money, but after paying off my debts and getting myself an apartment, I still had to do something for a living so I went back to sex work”. Instead all of these women become successful in their new-funded ways and Arnold is validated in his paternalistic meddling in other people’s lives.
If it had been just for that, I don’t think I would have really minded the film. But there are many other missteps there as well, like Imogen Poots’ accent (what the hell was that anyway?), a dragging second third and the fact that it just all felt a little too forced in what happened when and who ran across whom.
There were things I appreciated about it. Above all that we got to see Kathryn Hahn in a major role and not in yet another supporting role in which she continuously is stuck. She is awesome and for once, she got to show it a lot more than usual. Rhys Ifans was also great, though I wouldn’t have minded if his character would have been free off a sex worker angle [too many women were (former) sex workers in the film, coming surprisingly closer to the angel/whore dichotomy worthy of a Frank Miller product than I would have anticipated).
Ultimately, though, the film’s defining feature was that it didn’t make me laugh even half as much as it thought and tried to. That made it feel way longer than its sleek 90 minutes and left me bored.