Woody Allen presents his annual travelogue of Europe. This year we get Italy, specifically Rome and its environs. Allen also resurfaces before the camera as a musical impresario who specializes in offbeat opera productions. He is the father of Hayley (Alison Pill, "Goon") who meets hunky Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti) while vacationing. Jerry (Allen) hears Michelangelo's father, Giancarlo (Fabio Armiliata), singing in the shower and convinces him to star in an opera, but not in a conventional way.
This is but one of 4 separate and unconnected stories in the film. In another fantasy-like episode, Alec Baldwin seemingly relives a year he spent in Rome as a young man. He squires a man (Jesse Eisenberg) who he meets while trying to find his old apartment. Jack (Eisenberg) is living with Sally (Greta Gerwig) who is a student. A semi-famous movie actress (Ellen Page) is a friend of Sally's and comes for a visit. Against John's (Baldwin) warnings, Jack begins to spend time with Monica (Page) and one thing leads to another.
In perhaps the most offbeat piece, Oscar winner Roberto Benigni ("Life is Beautiful") plays an Italian everyman who suddenly finds that he is famous for no apparent reason. He is a small time clerk in an office. He has a wife and a couple kids. Then one day reporters and photographers become interested in his mundane life. Questions like "what did you have for breakfast?" or do you use an electric or blade when you shave?" become regular events. He goes on TV for interviews. He appears at movie premiers. Benigni is truly a comic genius. I wish I could see more of him.
Finally, there are the newlyweds in Rome for their honeymoon. Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) leaves the hotel to get her hair done in anticipation of an evening with Antonio's (Alessandro Tiberi) aunts and uncles who she has never met. She gets lost and through a series of missteps gets invited to dinner by one of Italy's biggest movie stars. In another unlikely event, Antonio gets a visit from a gorgeous hooker (Penelope Cruz) who has him mistaken for her real client. In an amusing bit, Anna (Cruz) must play the role of Milly the new bride while having dinner with the family and then meeting a potential new employer for Antonio.
If this all seem confusing and a bit much. It is and it isn't. Since there is no ultimate crossing of paths as do most movies like this, the film plays out easily and isn't hard to follow. Allen certainly has his moments but some of the jokes do fall flat. Still it's Woody Allen. If you are a fan, go see it. If you're not, this film should not be confused with "Annie Hall" or "Midnight In Paris."