It's an age-old conversation starter at cocktail parties: If you could live in any era in any place, where would you choose? The answer, almost invariably, is anywhere but now and any place but here.

It's an age-old conversation starter at cocktail parties: If you could live in any era in any place, where would you choose? The answer, almost invariably, is anywhere but now and any place but here.

Therein lies the premise of Woody Allen's new comedy, "Midnight in Paris," his funniest flick in years.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is a Hollywood screenwriter turned novelist on a Paris business trip with his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams).

Gil is infatuated with the city, romanticizing its past. Tipsy from an evening of wine, he wanders the streets near his hotel until a cab full of partygoers beckons him.

The cab's next stop? The 1920s, and a raucous Parisian nightlife populated with the likes of Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and more.

Woody Allen seems to churn out about a film a year, and it's been easy to miss many of them. "Paris," though, is a standout, not out of place among the director's funniest.

Here he works a vein of lowbrow comedy for a highbrow audience. Gags all play on the audience's knowledge of these literary and art figures, but there's a welcome sense of whimsy and silliness to it all.

Wilson serves as Woody's stand-in, and his performance is a welcome comeback for him as well. The laid-back warmth of his earlier roles plays nicely against the character's Allen-esque neuroses.

McAdams also plays against type as Gil's brittle bride-to-be, her delivery of some hysterically cold lines made funnier by her typically warm persona.

There's also an endless parade of fine actors popping up as famous historical figures, though none quite as brash - or funny - as Corey Stoll's Ernest Hemingway.

Spotting stars of the art and literary worlds is only part of the fun. "Paris" lands a warm and wistful ending just as the time-travel gag was wearing thin. It's Allen's best film in a decade at least.