I know it would sound weird to most, but the movie that always makes me laugh isn’t my favourite comedy. I’ll eventually feature my favourite comedy when I reach it on my list of favourite films but when I think of a film that always makes me laugh – sometimes ridiculously I must return to America’s consummate comedian (writing-wise) – Woody Allen.
It’s ironic that the Woody film I find funniest (NOTE: it’s not my favourite film of his) is the one that he writes with the help of an ally. Bullets Over Broadway is a film that’s so brilliant I’m always a little irked that it’s not remembered more. John Cusack takes over the role as the bathetic hero (a stand-in for Woody). “I’m an artist” – those are the first words from his mouth, of the film actually. And the story is a hilarious comedy of errors wherein Cusack’s David comes to question his artistic worth. One of the things that makes Bullets Over Broadway so brilliant is the fact that it has a serious and honest message underneath – one that hits home even as you’re laughing tears through the antics of the characters.
I highlighted it months ago as one of the best ensembles of the nineties – and it is. Cusack has always been woefully ignored, and though he’s had the usual missteps he’s given a number of good performances. Chazz Palminteri tries his utmost to the steal the show and Jack Warden, Jim Broadbent and Bob Reiner offer timely comedic support. But like so many of Woody’s pieces it’s all about the women. Mary Louise Parker does a lot with a role that doesn’t seem as much, Tracy Ulman elicits a laugh (or at least a wan smile) with each appearance on screen, Jennifer Tilly channels her inner Jean Hagen taking the concept the concept of dumb to a whole other level. But it is Dianne Wiest in her splendid diva-esque glory that hijacks the film and educes the heartiest laughs. Blink and you’ll miss the fact that she has the broadest of characters, a character type really, the film is all about the vignettes’ but Woody knows to kill us with the one-liners and the cast knows to kill us with the deliveries.
I reviewed Bullets Over Broadway some time back, and I stand by my belief that it’s the best film 1994 had to Oscar…if this doesn’t make you goofy with laughter…well, I’ll not finish that sentence. Just see it, because You stand on the brink of greatness. The world will open to you like an oyster. No, no, not like an oyster. The world will open to you like a magnificent vagina. That's a direct quote.
And I'm still MEME-ing....