There's an old maxim that states "You can't judge a book by its cover." Well, as Woody Allen's latest proves, you can't judge a movie by its title, either.
The title of Allen's newest film, "Mighty Aphrodite," conjures up fiery and sexual images. However, early in the film, sleazy jokes, pathetic acting and Allen's incessant fumbling destroys any hopes of such qualities.
Basically, the movie is supposed to be a romantic spoof on Greek tragedies. The stage shifts back and forth from Allen's modern New York City life to a supposedly funny version of "Oedipus Rex" in a Greek amphitheater. The latter is complete with togas, masks, and even Oedipus and his mother making out in the background. This all sounds hysterical, right?
Allen only wishes.
In the present-day scenes of the movie, Woody is happily married to a beautiful, young, sexy wife (surprise, surprise) with whom he adopts a child. The kid turns out to be a genius, and Allen, for reasons unexplained, throws himself into a quest to find the kid's biological mother who he assumes is brilliant as well.
Instead of a Nobel laureate, Allen finds Linda, a dumb, beautiful, young, sexy porn star/prostitute (surprise, surprise), whom he quickly befriends. As he spends more and more time with Linda (played by Mira Sorvino, who should be winner of this year's Most Annoying Voice Award), his wife begins to cheat on him, and eventually he turns to Linda for consolation.
Not like we weren't expecting that or anything.
Take all of this, throw it together, and you have...a couple of funny jokes. Some cute lines. A lot of graphic and trashy sexual references. But no charm, no life, no believability, and very little humor.
Allen himself is annoying with his mindless babbling and weak jokes. Some may find his antics amusing. But frankly, the "poor-little-man-who-gets-a-sex-goddess" theme is just not funny anymore.
The rest of the main characters are even more dry and lifeless than Allen. The desire to slap Helena Bonham Carter out of her self-pity is overwhelming, and only increases as the movie progresses. And Michael Rapaport, while likable at first as the "dumb-blond" boxer Allen tries to fix Linda up with, winds up sounding plastic and rehearsed, without a shred of believable character in him. By the trite end, it is clear that you are supposed to be happy for them. But you can't be happy for people you never liked-or even got to know at all, for that matter.
However, the Greek Chorus, F. Murray Abraham in particular, shines as one of the film's few genuinely funny elements. They get the smart and sassy lines, and use them to their full effect, without overkill. If only the chorus was featured more throughout the movie, it just might be worth it to sit through everyone else's mudanity.
The plot itself is poorly structured. Chances are that you will find yourself wondering, fairly often, what is going on. Why Allen is so intent on finding Linda in the first place is never really explained. And sure, dirty jokes are funny. But there is a cutoff point for everything. Unless the sight of a dildo lying in a fish tank makes you crack up, most likely you will end up rolling your eyes at Allen getting hot and bothered when he sees the latex fish toy.
All the big and impressive names in the movie, with the exception of Allen himself, have tiny cameo roles as various Greek actors or Chorus members. Here the prime question comes into play: does one really want to spend $7.50 to hear Olympia Dukakis crack one joke?
If you don't like to listen to a bunch of middle-aged adults whining about how they hate their lives, go watch something else, because that's about all this movie has to offer.
In short, save your money. "Mighty Aphrodite" lives up to its name about as much as Woody Allen deserves the title "Zeus." Do not be deceived, fair readers. Avoid this whine and cheese party as much as humanly possible.
Togas, masks, Oedipus making out with Jocasta. Hysterical? Allen only wishes.