'Midnight in Paris' (PG-13) (3 1/2 stars)
Writer and Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy,
Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Alison Pill, Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston
"Midnight in Paris" is easily Woody Allen's best comedy since 1984 and 1985 when he hit his peak with my favorite "Broadway Danny Rose" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo". Besides the thriller "Match Point" which is Allen's only great movie since "Crimes and Misdemeanors", Allen has been lost lately when it comes to his pure comedies. "Midnight in Paris" is for the Woody Allen fans who have missed the old Woody Allen who when he is at the top of his game is untouchable.
"Midnight in Paris" is also for the lover of the arts and it has something for lovers of books, art, movies and music. It is a pure delight for everyone and not just Woody Allen fans with it's charming storytelling, beautiful location work and incredible acting. This has a wonderful, big cast that has a ball playing real life artists. Owen Wilson is wonderful as Gil who with his wife Inez go on a trip to Paris. The couple meet up with another couple which include an insufferable bore, played wonderfully by Michael Sheen, who tries to one up Gil in telling Inez about the history of Paris. Late at night Gil gets restless and decides to try out the Paris night life after midnight when something magical happens.
Somehow Gil is transported to 1920's Paris where he gets picked up in a car, travels to a hot night spot and starts to meet legendary artists. They include F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, Salvador Dali, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Alice B. Toklas, Gauguin, T.S. Eliot and one of my favorites filmmaker Luis Bunuel. The reaction of Owen Wilson is priceless and the actors playing these artists are all fantastic and what a cast! All in fine form are Kathy Bates as Stein, Corey Stoll as
Hemingway and my favorite performance by Adrien Brody who is hilarious as Salvador Dali. Gil goes back again, gets picked up by the same car and starts to fall in love with a woman named Adriana played by the beautiful Marion Cotillard.
"Midnight in Paris" is a pure delight and Owen Wilson surprised me by sounding like the typical Woody Allen like lead character. But Wilson also brings his own charm and he makes the character his own and it is one of my favorite Owen Wilson performances. The writing is sharp, funny and Gil's and Adriana's dance of flirtation is charming, touching and beautiful. This is also a movie that is a great history lesson and in a great way. I urge younger viewers to check this movie out instead of wasting their energy on mindless drivel like "Green Lantern" and "X Men: First Class", they will get more out of this movie. They will learn about the arts, laugh and fall in love with Paris. It is Woody Allen's best comedy in decades but it also has an appeal for non Woody fans especially if you like wit, beauty, charm and superior character acting.