Deconstructing Harry

on December 12, 1997 by Kim Williamson
   Perhaps as close to a dud as Woody Allen has ever come, "Deconstructing Harry" is an almost resolutely unfunny comedy about a angst-ridden New York writer (Allen, de rigeur) who's in trouble with his angrily embarrassed ex (Judy Davis) for publishing a novel whose story is a thinly disguised account of their troubled marriage, and who's angry at a friend (Billy Crystal) for "stealing" away his girlfriend ("The Saint's" Elisabeth Shue) with a proposal of marriage. The antics that follow involve child kidnapping, family brawling and a visit to hell.
   Maybe it's that Allen's character is so unexpectedly and alarmingly foul-mouthed that lets the humor leak away; maybe it's that the laughlines are so slight it's as if Allen were writing on autopilot. (The one gem has to do with French politics, itself a sign that Allen isn't digging into the main material at hand.) Allen used to have concerns; now he has only concerns about concerns. Although a comedy, "Deconstructing Harry" is meant to have some depth, but it lacks even the insight and feeling of such early farces as "Sleeper" and "Love and Death." And from whence came this angry edge, in which Allen absolves his disreputable character in front of his audience? Starring Woody Allen, Billy Crystal, Elisabeth Shue and Judy Davis. Directed and written by Woody Allen. Produced by Jean Doumanian. A Fine Line release. Comedy. Rated R for strong language and some sexuality. Running time: 93 min
Tags: Starring Woody Allen, Billy Crystal, Elisabeth Shue, Judy Davis. Directed, written by Woody Allen, Produced by Jean Doumanian, Fine Line, Comedy

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