Jim Belushi and Kate Winslet
Reviewing a new Woody Allen film in the current climate is tricky. The famed writer-director may not actually be part of the current Hollywood headlines, but he is certainly a manifestation of its current malady. If an Allen masterpiece like Manhattan needs to be reevaluated (and it SO does), where does this leave his adequate new film?
Allen continues to remove himself physically from his films, though his latest onscreen proxy, Justin Timberlake, is the most implausible. JT narrates the tale as a Coney Island lifeguard in the 1950s, recounting the story of his affair with Ginny (Kate Winslet), the frustrated wife of a carousel operator (exquisitely played by Jim Belushi).
Another lesser film in Allen’s impressive filmography, Wonder Wheel has shining moments of period authenticity that cannot overcome the stagy trappings laid by JT’s dramatist narrator. Another sharp turn by Winslet shocks no one, and Juno Temple never fails to charm despite the repetitiveness of her ingenues.
Allen’s newfound talent is helping unlikely older males like Belushi (or Blue Jasmine’s Andrew Dice Clay) hit career highs. Nevertheless, a career U-turn from Belushi is not enough to push Wonder Wheel on anyone but Allen completists, which is starting to feel like a phrase that can be cut and pasted into all future Allen reviews.