There is something very wrong about Woody Allen’s WONDER WHEEL, and I can’t place my finger on why I didn’t really like the film other than the gorgeous cinematography that should be nominated for an Oscar. Maybe it’s the subplot of Kate Winslet’s child from another marriage starting random fires in places that doesn’t go anywhere. Or maybe it’s the over acting from everyone except Juno Temple. Or maybe it’s because story structure and plot wise it’s just not very interesting and it is very predictable. Or maybe I just hated all the characters. Woody Allen is very hit and miss, and mostly over the years its been a giant miss, other than Match Point and Midnight in Paris. Maybe he should start titling all of his films with the letter M at some point and he’ll have more luck?
Sexual allegations aside, I do think Woody Allen is talented, but his one movie a year bullshit is spreading quite thin. And I understand the man is in his 80’s, and if he doesn’t do one film a year we might not even see a next film from him. But the guy needs more planning in every aspect in his film making sometimes. He needs to think: is this story interesting? Are there any likable characters? Am I just doing this movie to film Coney Island in a special way? Maybe I should think about just doing a psudo-documentary on Coney Island and film it the way I want to? That’s where I have the feeling his idea for a movie came from: “I want to film Coney Island in its prime, with special cinematography….now what kind of cockamamie story could I come up with to fit in with it?
Oh I know! I’ll have a groggy housewife (Kate Winslet) that has an abusive husband (Jim Belushi), that stars an affair with a young lifeguard (Justin Timberlake), that also has eyes on the abusive husband’s young daughter (Juno Temple) that came into town where her ex-husband, who is a gangster, is looking for her and is going to kill her if they find her. Doesn’t that just sound absolutely original? I hope you are sensing my sarcasm of the written word. Because it is not original, and it is very predictable. Think hard for a second, where do you see this story going? 90% of you could probably predict this down pat. It’s very easy. The film tries to be clever by being a tiny bit ambiguious at the end and just having the film end after some accusations are made, but the audience knows better and knows that it is just a cheap trick because Woody Allen had nothing else up his sleeve.
The movie is just constant bickering dialogue scene after constant bickering dialogue scene with every shot being absolutely fucking gorgeous. If it is nominated for an Oscar for that, that’s fine, but anything else is just blasphemy. Everybody overacts in this film to the 10th degree, except for Juno Temple, who only seemed sincere because she couldn’t believe that she gets to star in a Woody Allen film. Woody Allen usually has a great ear for dialogue, but the bickering in it just seems force fed and a little too over the top. And the kid setting fires? Was that supposed to be some kind of a metaphor or did he not know how to wrap up that story?
Wonder Wheel is a huge disappointment. I wouldn’t call myself a Woody Allen fan, but if there are any Woody Allen fans out there, consider this a huge misfire and disappointing except for the cinematography. What is really funny is that the film is quite watchable if you just hit the mute button. It could’ve even worked as a color silent film. But with sound, this film is a disaster, and one that I would never revisit again, unless some of the shots were cobbled together to form a collage on the background on my laptop.