Everyone Says I Love You (1996) / Comedy-Musical

MPAA Rated: R for language and some sexual references (Very mild, I'd rate it PG-13)
Running Time: 101 min.

Cast: Woody Allen, Alan Alda, Julia Roberts, Goldie Hawn, Natasha Lyonne, Edward Norton, Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore, Tim Roth, Gaby Hoffman, Lukas Haas, Billy Crudup, David Ogden Stiers
Director: Woody Allen
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Review published November 13, 2004

Everyone Says I Love You continues the long streak of light Woody Allen (Mighty Aphrodite, Manhattan Murder Mystery) comedies in the 1990s, and although this doesn't really rank as one of his finest works, it is definitely a departure from the norm.  Although many of the themes, characters, and situations are ones you've seen in Woody's films before, Allen does offer up a new spin in making this a musical.  It's nothing too elaborate in terms of that genre, as you've seen far better singing and dancing in almost any other professional musical, but the amateurishness of the delivery is mostly intentional.  With the exception of Barrymore's dubbed singing voice, all of the actors perform their own singing and dancing, and while you probably won't be clamoring for the soundtrack, there is still something endearing in Allen's attempt to make something he's never done before in a lighthearted, non-pretentious fashion.

The film follows a several characters in a somewhat large, extended family, and keys in on several of the characters' romantic interests, past, present, and possible future.  The details of the relationships are too difficult to spell out here, so I'll keep the plotline brief.  In essence, almost all of the relationships hit a crossroads where someone has to decide if they are really with the one that is just right for them, or if there is someone out there who just understands them better. 

With such a large cast, it's hard to really explore any relationship with sufficient detail to get reeled into the developments, and in terms of narrative structure, Everyone Says I Love You is one of Allen's least focused efforts.  Any one of the stories could have had a movie of its own, and if they all have trouble vying for precious screen time, it only becomes more so when they have to also make room for the dozen or so musical numbers that crop up throughout the movie.  The songs performed are all old-fashioned romantic standards, none of which are tailor-made for the situation at hand, although they do capture the spirit of the moods of their respective performers.  Again, Allen didn't want the performers to be too good, staying within the confines of their characters at all times.  Basically, the song and dance routines aren't going to wow you with anything except their charm.

I would rank Everyone Says I Love You as one of Woody Allen's lesser efforts, but one which is still worthwhile to see for fans of Allen as a filmmaker, rather than as a comedian.  Even in failure, Allen is still far more interesting a director than almost all of his contemporaries, and even through the weakest elements of this film, the inspired vision underneath still shines through.  If you're unfamiliar with Allen's better works, I would say this is probably not the best introduction, so I'll strictly recommend this for those who are intimately knowledgeable about Allen and his comedic style.  A mish-mash of the mundane and divine, Everyone Says I Love You hits enough right notes to recommend, but with Allen struggling to maintain cohesion in this genre that he is clearly uncomfortable in, most of those notes were probably struck on accident than by design

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo