In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Hanging a lantern on a plot convenience doesn’t all of a sudden make it OK”
“Alright lady, I’ll put you down. You’re an idiot!”
An ensemble cast including plenty of names I really like… One of the greatest directors who helped define the greatest decade of Hollywood film making…. A movie that came out since I have been writing this blog, and thus, seeing more new movies than ever. It seems impossible for a movie like that pass me by. Yet, here I am. A cast that includes Owen Wilson, Will Forte, Illeana Douglas, Katherine Hahn, Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Aniston. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich and released just two years ago. I had idea how I missed She’s Funny That Way... Until I watched it.
Meeting with her therapist (Illeana Douglas), Isabella (Imogen Poots) starts to unwrap a long, complicated intricate story of love, lust, infidelity, and most importantly (because this is an attempt at screwball farce), misunderstandings and coincidences. Working as a call girl, Isabella met Arnold (Owen Wilson), whose fetish isn’t sexual at all. Instead, he pays prostitutes exorbitant amounts of money so they can improve their lives and he can feel better about himself. Pursuing that life improvement, Isabella ends up auditioning for a Broadway play. A Broadway play directed by… Arnold.
A Broadway play that has been written by Joshua Fleet (Will Forte), who is dating Jane (Jennifer Aniston). Who also happens to be Isabella’s therapist in the story she’s telling her current therapist in the movie’s framing device. Confused yet? Wait, because I still have to mention the love triangle going on between Arnold, his wife (Kathryn Hahn as Delta), and her co-star in Arnold’s play, Seth (Rhys Ifans). Plus, an ex-client of Isabella’s, Judge Pendergest (Austin Pendelton), who is also the father of one of the other key characters, and I literally can’t remember which one, because it all just got too convoluted.
There’s a line early on in She’s Funny That Way when Isabella acknowledges how crazy it is that in a city of millions, these people’s lives all intertwine to such a degree. But you know what, a director or screenwriter hanging on a lantern on a plot convenience like this doesn’t all of a sudden make it OK. You telling me you’re being lazy doesn’t make the laziness any more acceptable.
That’s not to say there’s no room for poetic license and the odd reality stretching convenience in storytelling. I’m fine with that stuff when the story and entertaining characters make up for it. But here, it’s like Bogdanovich and co screenwriter Louise Stratten thought all they had to do was pile one broad misunderstanding and embarrassing moment on top of another, and somehow interesting characters and a funny story would emerge. All they did was prove how hard good farce is to make.