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Woody Sings

Everyone Says I Love You
John Clifford

Skyline Boulevardier: Tim Roth takes a moment to look pensive in Woody Allen's frothy "Everyone Says I Love You."

The director grows older, while the actresses get younger in Woody Allen's 'Everyone Says I Love You'

By Rob Nelson

THE NEW YORKER recently devoted several thousand words to the sanctity of Woody Allen's muse, although it seems no mere whim that compelled the filmmaker to release his first musical at this particular time. In the late '90s, only the antique conventions of the Depression-era Hollywood musical could accommodate Allen's trademark concerns with the romantic woes of incredibly rich, beautiful and white residents of New York's Upper East Side. So if Everyone Says I Love You seems horribly dated, insular, and vain--hey, that's the genre, and maybe Allen's poking some fun at it, right? Not a chance.

Feeling nostalgic for how things used to be (in the city and the movies), the director answers critics of his race politics by including people of color in Everyone's musical numbers. They're the smiley-faced homeless people and service workers twirling brooms and hospital gurneys on the sidelines, the sort of caricatures once played by actors in face paint. Meanwhile, the 61-year-old Allen maintains his ability to cast gorgeous young actresses in leading roles. Of these, Drew Barrymore seems to carry a tune more sweetly than Julia Roberts, whose atonal rendition of "All My Life" is just excruciating--although, in fact, Barrymore was smart enough to request that her voice be dubbed.

With Mia out of the picture, Goldie Hawn is permitted to lend a hint of warmth to the standard role of the Allen character's neurotic ex-wife, and the young Natalie Portman reduces the cast's average age considerably. The male actors include Allen (who delivers a hushed, falsely modest version of "I'm Thru With Love"), Tim Roth and Alan Alda, although only Edward Norton (Primal Fear, The People vs. Larry Flynt) hits the right notes as a strait-laced nerd who struggles to present Barrymore's debutante with an engagement ring. In fact, after just three movies, Norton has perfected such an old-fashioned, Jimmy Stewart­like persona that his presence already feels iconic, providing the quotation marks that Allen's embarrassingly unironic work of escapism so desperately needs.

Everyone Says I Love You (R; 110 min.), directed and written by Woody Allen, photographed by Carlo DiPalma and starring Edward Norton and Drew Barrymore.

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From the January 16-22, 1997 issue of Metro

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