Quantcast

Film review: Deconstructing Harry

Published: Friday, Jan. 2 1998 12:01 a.m. MST

Writer/director Woody Allen has been peppering his later-period movies with bits swiped from his real life. But any revelations made in his newest film, "Deconstructing Harry," fall squarely into the "more-information-than-we-needed-to-know" category.

For instance, did we really care to find out that Allen doesn't like parents who won't let their exes see their children? (No duh!) Or how about the fact that he's irritated by Orthodox Jews?

This disappointingly uneven comedy is also far more profane and tasteless than anything Allen has ever done to this point (much more so than even "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask" and "Mighty Aphrodite"). It wallows in some perverse sexual content and vulgar jokes that will probably come as a shock to those used to his more laid-back recent work.

Ironically enough, the character he plays in "Deconstructing Harry" — a novelist suffering from writer's block, named Harry BLOCK! — has trouble distinguishing between the experiences of his fictional counterparts in his books and stories, and those in his own real life.

To make matters worse, Harry also pursues his vendettas in print, making his lovers and relatives characters in his works — but with Harry looking much better (fictional 'Harrys' include Richard Benjamin, Stanley Tucci, Tobey Maguire and Robin Williams). And to put it mildly, most of them aren't pleased.

In fact, his psychotherapist ex-wife Joan (Kirstie Alley) has pretty much forbidden him to see his son (Eric Lloyd) — especially since his foul-mouthed, besotted and sex-obsessed nature is such a bad influence on the boy.

And then there's the impending marriage of his former best friend, Larry (Billy Crystal), to Fay (Elisabeth Shue), a former lover whom Harry now sees as being the love of his life. It, too, is causing him no end of grief.

All of Harry's trials and tribulations are probably supposed to make us sympathize with the character, but as written and portrayed by Allen he comes off as being self-absorbed and extremely unpleasant.

Of course, not many of the other actors come off particularly well either (Alley is shrill, while Judy Davis is just way too loopy).

However, that's nothing compared to the perhaps racist conceit in having Hazelle Goodman, the first black actress to have a significant part in an Allen film, play a smart-mouthed prostitute!

The movie is not without its moments, though. There's a very funny bit about a bar mitzvah featuring a "Star Wars" theme, and the portrayal of hell is a hoot (with Crystal doubling as the Devil), at least until Allen starts throwing in ample female nudity and turns it into something that looks like it was pulled from "Devil's Advocate."

"Deconstructing Harry" is rated R for almost nonstop use of profane language, vulgar jokes and gags, nudity, simulated sex, drug use and some brief violence.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS