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I've always felt that the context (Russia in the 19th century and the Napoleonic Wars) and the content (pre-existentialist philosophy) were fine targets to satire. The opening scenes, where Woody as narrator introduces his screwball family, are truly looney-tuney. And the scenes where Woody (Boris) and Diane Keaton (Sonja) talk philosophy, serve more to make fun of the ridiculous gibberish they are engaged in than to further the philosophical discourse. The truer philosophical discussions come in the form of setup-punchline jokes delivered later on ("If it turns out that there IS a God, I don't think that he's evil; I think that the worst you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever"). This is all good stuff.
Woody's performance here reminded me a lot of really good Groucho Marx. His wiseguy retorts to oblivious inquisitors are done in the same winking/nod to the camera manner that Groucho mined for gold. And Woody, with his messy red hair and horn-rimmed glasses, looks every bit the sarcastic clown that Groucho did. There's one particular scene ("She's a great kidder... No, you're a great kidder... No, you're Don Francisco's sister") which mimics the Marx Brothers doubletalk style perfectly. In the film's second half, Woody takes a step back, to allow Diane Keaton some grand time in the Groucho persona. And she runs with it.Read more ›
Answer: One of the funniest films you'll ever see.
This is Woody Allen at the peak of his creativity. The fun never stops and it has tons of quotable lines that only get funnier with each repeat viewing. In my estimation this film, along with Annie Hall, are Woody's best work! A MUST OWN for anyone who loves to laugh!
In fact, one could make the case that the very absurdity of much of the movie (Russian peasants routinely discussing meta-ethical philosophy; Boris surviving several close-range gunshots nearly unphased; Boris and Sonja surviving on a diet of snow) is a commitment to the philosophical and literary movement known as existentialism.
Examine the movie closely, and you will find running throughout the themes emphasized by much of the best existentialist writings. Most significantly, Woody addresses the question of what meaning one can give to life in a Godless world and what kind of ethical stance is possible between pure subjectivity and the now defunct objectivity. The latter issue sets the stage for later Allen classics like *Crimes and Misdemeanors*, and is treated very well in the picture as Boris continually tries to navigate between a God-based moral system which he, as an atheist, rejects, and a purely subjective approach to values. Perhaps this movie does not so much parody these writers as it does involve them in debate. Much of Boris' ruminations suggest, contrary to Dostoyevsky, that even if God is dead, everything is NOT permitted.Read more ›
I wish I had this mans smarts...I am amazed at Allens twisted weaving of story-telling and one-liners..My favorite is when he is in training and the seargent says "From now on you'll clean the latrines and the mess hall" Allens response: "Sir, how can I tell the difference?".....Hilarious...
I've seen this film dozens of times, and it simply doesn't get old..Allen has proven once again that if a joke is TRULY funny it can be repeated over and over again and have the same effect on people. The reclusive Woody Allen is the one celebrity I would like to meet..... to thank him for making this extraordinary film....it;s like a best friend I like to watch when I'm in the dumps..
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some funny moments but too plodding and boring (Tolstoyian) for me.Published 2 months ago by Monsieur
a laugh a minute , not for people who suffer from a.a.d.. this is a situation comedy that makes clean fun of war , also religion , for the whole familyPublished 2 months ago by paul kavitsky
Witty, clever, zany, funny. An intellectual Marx Brothers. Not for everyone. You have to pay attention and notice the herring baron sneaking his herring upstairs as his lover:)Published 2 months ago by Styner
This film is a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham of the writings of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Checkov and Ingmar Bergman's films. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Curt Allred
Probably my favorite Woody Allen movie and I like a lot of Woody Allen movies!Published 4 months ago by FamilyBums
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