Those who miss the Woody Allen urban sex farces of the ‘80s & ‘90s might try this reasonable facsimile. Writer/director/actor John Turturro even got Allen to co-star, showing his best comic form in years playing a rare books shop owner (B’way & 81st/across from Zabars should you care to visit) forced to close down the family store. Delightfully married to Tonya Pinkins and (presumably) step-dad to her gaggle of rambunctious kids, he comes up with the crazy idea of pimping out Turturro, his part-time assistant, as an off-beat gigolo. And, for a little while, it works splendidly, until they meet an intriguing woman in Brooklyn, a young, Hasidic widow (Vanessa Paradis), living a sort of half-life since her husband died. And here the film breaks down a bit since Turturro isn’t able to stir up the hesitant passion needed to raise the jealousy quotient of Paradis’s longtime admirer Liev Schreiber, neatly cast as a neighborhood Hasidic police acolyte. Turturro seems aware of the problem, gilding the film in buckets of Golden Hour light, hoping to camouflage the missing romantic element. Oh well, the other two-thirds play very nicely just as they are. Very sweet, very fun, a little paler than need be.
DOUBLE-BILL: Try the underappreciated MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY/’93 to see how Allen mixes up the pace on a wry comic throwaway piece.