Masturbating on screen is generally reserved for porn. But there's
another kind of self-love, the kind that trumpets one's erudition.
Since as far back as Manhattan, Woody Allen has been invoking greater
artists than himself to be reflected in their stardust. Here, his
references are a mile wide and an inch deep — a checklist of Big
Names (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Dali, etc.) in whose world Owen
Wilson magically finds himself. Many of the scenes seem more like a
college lecture (Jazz Age Intellectuals 101) than a story. The film's
message is that nobody's happy with the age they're living in; we all
wish we had been born into a previous, “better” era. For Owen, 1920's
Paris is the ideal; for 1920's Parisians, it was the Belle Epoque; for
Epoquers, it was the Renaissance. (Get it?) Wilson's present-day
fiance and future in-laws are also casualties of the shallow
screenplay: it's never a good sign when you know everything about a
character in their first line of dialogue. Rachel MacAdams has a
thankless, annoying role made worse by no discernible reason why she
and Owen would have ever gotten together. The in-laws (Kurt Fuller and
Mimi Kennedy ) are shockingly two-dimensional. Wilson himself stays
relaxed and engaged and is the best thing in the picture along with
lovely cinematography. — Jeff Schultz

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