Midnight in Paris
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this imaginative romantic comedy, which represents a return to form for master filmmaker Woody Allen, includes some thematic material -- infidelity, professional boredom -- that may be too mature for younger teens. But given the movie's charming journey back to historic Paris and its lack of anything specifically risque, older teens may get a kick out of it. (Think of it as a witty history lesson.) There's smoking and drinking -- champagne, wine, and bourbon, especially in scenes depicting the roaring '20s.
What's the story?
On a trip to Paris with his jaded, pampered fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), Hollywood screenwriter Gil (Owen Wilson) grows enamored once more of what he dreams is a true writer's life: to live in Paris and finish his novel, preferably in a charming little flat overlooking the City of Lights. But Inez (and her conservative businessman dad and decorator's discount-wielding mom) wants none of that. Instead, she wants Gil to disabuse himself of the romance of suffering and embrace Hollywood and the generous cash flow it offers. She also wants them to spend more time with the pedantic professor (Michael Sheen) she once had a crush on and his wife, who happen to be in Paris, too. When one of Gil's nighttime strolls turns into a fantastical trip back in time, where he's hobnobbing with the likes of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Gil's longing for escape blossoms. Especially one that involves the alluring artists' muse Adriana (Marion Cotillard).
Is it any good?
Owen Wilson as the perfect Woody Allen leading man -- who knew? But that he is, at least in this fine and deeply satisfying film. As a romantic who's longing to finish his novel about nostalgia, Wilson at last finds a character that captures, without dumbing down, his flake-with-a-poetic-soul essence. It's about time. But enough about him -- and the perfectly cast supporting players. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is a gift to Allen fans who may have begun to doubt their guru after years of uneven, sometimes-great, often-disappointing, creations. This film is such a delight. Intelligent, insightful, and inspired in ways that recall Allen's best movies (cue, yes, nostalgia), it's playful and absurd, evoking Annie Hall and The Purple Rose of Cairo, but it also firmly reminds us that Allen is as vital as ever, with so much still to say about art and love and quietly desperate moments, even if it comes wrapped in his ever-familiar box. (There's still the signature black background with white credits and the best jazz soundtrack.) Now, can he come back to New York?
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why so many movies, especially romantic ones, take place in Paris. What's the allure? Do films like this set up an unrealistic expectation of both Paris and love?
Many of Allen's movies examine a certain type of boredom that besets relationships. What do they say about relationships in general and, specifically, about the lulls and doubts that inevitably set in?
Are you familiar with any of Allen's early work? Which filmmakers have stood the test of time?