6. Mighty Aphrodite
After “Annie Hall”, Allen’s filmography grew more and more bleak with the occasional silly comedy in between the Bergman inspired dramas, which featured Mia Farrow. “Crimes and Misdemeanors” was one of the few dark comedies that appeared over the course of a decade, and the next really good comedy wouldn’t come until 1995.
“Mighty Aphrodite” is a film about Lenny (Allen) and Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter), who adopt a brilliant little boy named Max. Lenny becomes obsessed with finding Max’s mother, thinking that she would also be brilliant. It turns out that Max’s mother, Linda (played by Mira Sorvino), is actually the dumbest person he’s ever met.
What really makes the movie unforgettable is that it is interwoven with a Greek chorus led by F. Murray Abraham, comically comparing the film to the story of Oedipus. One of the best lines is delivered by Abraham: “Curiosity, that’s what kills us. Not muggers or all that bullshit about the ozone layer. It’s our own hearts and minds.”
7. Everyone Says I Love You
This film is yet another underrated comedy in Allen’s filmography, and what makes it so great and unique is that it is his only musical. Natasha Lyonne plays D.J., the daughter to Joe (Allen) and Steffi (Goldie Hawn), who loves her family even though her parents are divorced. Everyone in the big family are all excited about the wedding of D.J.’s half-sister Skylar (Drew Barrymore) to Holden (Edward Norton).
There are just a few minor hiccups such as when Skylar leaves Holden for a criminal named Charlie (Tim Roth). While all of this transpires with a few catchy musical numbers in Manhattan, Joe pursues Von (Julia Roberts) in Europe with the help of D.J. Besides being funny and heartwarming, “Everyone Says I Love You” is just a fun flick with a lot of charm.
One of the best lines is delivered by Alan Alda, who is distraught when his son declares he is a Republican: “Steffi, bring down a copy of my will… and an eraser. Okay?”
8. Deconstructing Harry
In what is generally considered his best work from the 90s, novelist Harry Block (Woody Allen) has only found success with his writing after putting his friends and family’s lives on display in his books and calling it fiction. Harry goes on a trip where he meets his fictional characters and the real people in his life, who make it clear that they want nothing to do with him.
The movie is insightful but also intensely funny; two of the best scenes include Harry going to Hell where Billy Crystal plays the Devil, and the other features Robin Williams as an actor who is suddenly out of focus – quite literally.
It has some incredible lines such as Allen’s quote: “Every hooker I ever speak to tells me that it beats the hell out of waitressing. Waitressing’s gotta be the worst fucking job in the world.” With such an amazing ensemble cast, it would take a really bad writer for this movie to not be hysterical.
“Celebrity” is Allen’s take on not only the film industry but the idea of celebrity. The story centers on a husband and wife who are handling their divorce differently. Lee (Kenneth Branagh) is at a standstill in his personal life and his career, so he decides to divorce his wife Robin (Judy Davis), and tries with little success to be an entertainment journalist.
During his assignments, he has run-ins with the Hollywood elite, such as a young and uninhibited actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and a beautiful model played by Charlize Theron.
While he has an unsuccessful romance with Nola, played by Winona Ryder, Robin collects herself and finds love and happiness in the world of celebrity after meeting a top TV producer Tony (Joe Mantegna). Allen’s hilariously pessimistic view of Hollywood makes this movie so much fun to watch.
One of the best lines is when Tony says: “He’s very arty, pretentious, one of those assholes who shoots all his films in black and white.” This is, of course, a comedic attempt at self-deprecation, considering Allen has directed some of his films in black and white.
10. Small Time Crooks
Finally, Allen’s last truly great comedy. “Small Time Crooks” is vaguely reminiscent of “Take the Money and Run”, considering it is about an unsuccessful crook named Ray (Allen) and his wife Frenchy (Tracey Ullman). They hatch a scheme to rob a bank by buying the closed-down pizza shop next to it in order to dig a tunnel from the basement of the restaurant into the bank.
Frenchy bakes and sells cookies in the restaurant as a cover. The robbery is a failure, but only because the cookies are so popular that they become millionaires.
The best bits of the film include the dialogue between Ray and Frenchy, when Ray says: “What would you say if I told you that you were married to a very brilliant man?” and Frenchy responds with: “ I’d say I’d have to be a bigamist.” In “Small Time Crooks”, Allen manages to bring his goofy comedy back and though the film is more mature than some of its predecessors, it still has the same charm that Allen never truly lost.
Author Bio: Alyssa Merwin is a writer, movie-lover, and amateur film critic from Los Angeles. She loves science-fiction, drama, and horror films but she is obsessed with the dark shadows, dangerous femme fatales, and cigarette-smoking, fedora-wearing leading men of film noir. If she could go back in time to any point in history, it would be the glamorous award ceremony for the 12th Academy Awards in 1940. You can find her work at alyssamerwin.com.