Like a jogger who keeps running in place when stopped by a red light, Woody Allen’s lesser pics only exist to keep the creative motor in tune. No fallow season for the Woodman! This extra dark comedy is set in Britain, though it barely partakes of the place, and it’s the usual roundelay of sex & recoupling. An old marriage (Anthony Hopkins/Gemma Jones) and their daughter’s newer marriage (Josh Brolin/Naomi Watts) are each breaking up. New partners appear for all (Antonio Banderas/Freida Pinto/Lucy Punch/Roger Ashton-Griffiths), but just bring new problems to replace the old. Life goes on . . . miserably. Only the slightly delusional get some sort of shot at happiness. It’s Woody’s most Hobbesian comedy (oh, that’s the English part), and even a jaunty narrator pointing out life’s absurdities can‘t lighten the mood. It’s a legit POV, but Woody makes his characters too foolish to buy into (the old goat/hooker bride is a particular embarrassment) and compounds the problem by saving his biggest narrative blunder for a final ‘got’cha’ moment.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Surely, the Donizetti opera Woody uses @ Covent Garden shouldn't be LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, but DON PASQUALE with a plot that mirrors the Anthony Hopkins story line 'to a tee.'