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A still from ‘She’s Funny That Way’.
A still from ‘She’s Funny That Way’.

Film review: She’s Funny That Way

A light and likeable screwball comedy with a stellar ensemble cast

Peter Bogdanovich’s romantic situational comedy is a blend of the conversational sparkle mastered by Woody Allen, the texture of Wes Anderson’s quirky characterization and a throwback to the Hollywood films of the 1930s and 1940s. She’s Funny That Way is similar to Bogdanovich’s earlier works, like Noises Off and Paper Moon, in its theatricality.

The stellar ensemble cast includes Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Jennifer Aniston, Will Forte, Kathryn Hahn and Rhys Ifans with a catalogue of cameos sprinkled throughout, including Quentin Tarantino and Joanna Lumley.

This is the story of Isabella “Izzy" Patterson (Poots), a Brooklyn girl who works for an escort service while nurturing dreams of becoming an actor. The film opens with Izzy recounting, in minute detail, the circumstances that led her to where she is now—a Hollywood actor in Los Angeles. In one flashback, we see how visiting one client, Arnold Albertson a.k.a Derek (Owen Wilson), changed not only Izzy’s life, but also those of several other characters.

Arnold is casting for his latest play, “Grecian Nights". Izzy shows up for the audition and immediately wows not only the writer, Joshua (Will Forte), but also the play’s lead actress, Delta (Hahn), who also happens to be Arnold’s wife.

The other key players in this comedy are Aniston as Jane, the neurotic, highly strung and hugely incompetent psychotherapist. Aniston is delightful as she steps out of her comfort zone. Hahn is in fine form as Delta, and Ifans plays the unlikely star actor. British actor Poots’ Brooklyn accent sounds too put on at times.

In the midst of the drama unfolding at the theatre, Delta learns of Arnold’s infidelities and the standard speech on squirrels and nuts that he gives to every escort he hires. He charms them with some spiel about “squirrels to the nuts, nuts to the squirrels", pays them $30,000 and asks them to change their lives.

While Arnold and Delta are working on the play, they run into many of these women, who coincidentally happen to be in New York at the same time, and the skeletons just spill out of the closet. There is also a judge who is obsessed with Izzy, who was once his escort, and has hired a bumbling private investigator to find her.

A light film, She’s Funny That Way may not be all that funny but it’s likeable enough. Incidentally, Arnold’s “squirrels to the nuts" line is not his. It is borrowed from Ernst Lubitsch’s 1946 film Cluny Brown.

She’s Funny That Way released in theatres on Friday.

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