Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: With Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine coming to theaters, we look back on the Woodman’s most undervalued movies.
Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
Given his self-professed love for the form, it’s surprising that Woody Allen has made only one musical in his lengthy, prolific career. Perhaps he doesn’t feel he can do them justice without a stable of movie stars who can sing and dance. (There’s no law requiring him to cast famous actors, but he probably has enough hassle getting funded as it is.) Everyone Says I Love You simply ignores the problem, staging numbers with the plainly untrained likes of Edward Norton, Drew Barrymore, Tim Roth, Goldie Hawn, and Allen himself. Their voices are thin and tentative, but there’s a certain effective pathos in that; while a handful of the musical interludes are brash and upbeat—most of those involve professional dancers—the majority are more wistful, with the ballad “I’m Through With Love” serving as the movie’s unofficial theme song.
At the same time, Everyone Says I Love You is Woody at his most fun and freewheeling, tossing gags and digressions around virtually at random; he’s perfectly happy to put the flimsy narrative (an extended family’s romantic foibles) on hold for several minutes to stage a routine involving a dozen Groucho Marx impersonators. It’s essentially a companion piece to Radio Days, but in this case the nostalgia is present-tense, with Allen replaced as narrator by Natasha Lyonne’s still-evolving teen. You can see the beginning of Woody’s latter-day laziness as a writer here—a recurring bit with Lukas Haas as a Young Republican in a family of liberals is beyond feeble (though it has a great punchline)—but his comic timing was still comparatively razor-sharp, and this was pretty much the last gasp of his career as an improbable romantic lead. (He was 60 at the time.) The movie’s finale, in which he and Hawn perform a gravity-defying duet on the banks of the Seine, is even lovelier now than it was then, tinged with an additional layer of melancholy.
Availability: Minimal. Nobody streams Everyone Says I Love You, and it can’t be rented or purchased digitally; even Netflix’s DVD service doesn’t carry it. But the DVD is still in print, and can be found for under $10 on Amazon.