Movie review: To Rome With Love

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From the July 5, 2012 edition

Woody Allen — that New Yorker-iest of New Yorkers — is continuing his tour of Europe.

In his follow-up to the absolutely delightful “Midnight in Paris” — Allen’s funniest flick in decades, in my book — he’s once again left NYC for the allure of Europe in “To Rome With Love.”

It’s an ambitious interweaving of multiple storylines with examples of Allen at his best and at his not-so-best.

Rather than settle on one measly plot, Allen opts for at least four here. An American opera director (played by Allen) discovers a mortician with an amazing voice. A famous architect (Alec Baldwin) revisits the Roman haunts of his younger days and meets a young fan (Jesse Eisenberg) who finds himself in a romantic dilemma. A young Italian couple (Alessandro Tiberi and Alessandra Mastronardi) gets embroiled in sexy and comedic misadventures (Hint: One involves Penelope Cruz).

Whew. That’s a lot of stories, huh? I’m even leaving some out here.

Sometimes, this is Allen at his punchy, neurotic best. There’s a pop in his dialogue, and some highly quotable lines (“I’ve got a 150-160 IQ.” “You’re figuring that in Euros.”).

Allen tends to have leads — played by himself or others — that closely mirror his persona. Here there are several Woodies wandering around at different stages in life.

It works more often than not, but while some of the plots are one-note jokes on repeat, others might have been excised altogether.

Woody has earned himself some indulgences, I suppose. Just don’t expect the magic of “Midnight in Paris.”