Sunday, October 10, 2010


From the Vault: Mighty Aphrodite

This movie year has become one of extreme disappointment as one good filmmaker after another produces a misfire. So far, we've seen the stumbles of the Hughes brothers and Kevin Smith, among others, and the biggest fall of the fall (Martin Scorsese's Casino) isn't even out yet. This week, it's Woody Allen who trips up with Mighty Aphrodite, leaving movie fans with a few laughs, some OK performances and a lot of regret-filled sighs.

Allen stars as Lenny Weinrib, a New York sportswriter wed to Amanda, a younger art dealer (Helena Bonham Carter) who suddenly decides she wants a child. At first, Lenny expresses reluctance but Amanda adopts a son anyway and Lenny becomes entranced by the power of parenthood.

In fact, the magic of the bright boy and the zip that has vanished from his marriage prompts Lenny to seek out the boy's natural mother.

Mira Sorvino plays the birth mother who, much to Lenny's chagrin, turns out to be a prostitute/porn actress who's several cards short of a full deck. Sorvino's amusing take on the typical role of the "dumb blonde" gives Mighty Aphrodite much of its energy as she's simultaneously naive and streetwise, vulgar and innocent.

Allen's script does produce many of the hearty laughs you expect from Allen, but the story itself fall flat and the comic gimmick of a Greek chorus seems just that — a gimmick.

Aside from Sorvino, the other performers, except for a brief bit by Michael Rapaport as an equally dumb suitor that Lenny tries to fix Sorvino up with, get little to do.

Mighty Aphrodite, coming after the inspired Manhattan Murder Mystery and Bullets Over Broadway, definitely lands in the category of lesser Woody efforts.

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