6. Melinda and Melinda (2004)
Everything about “Melinda and Melinda” sounds like it’s going to be fantastic. At the beginning of the film, four writers are discussing what makes a tragedy and what makes a comedy. They begin with a simple story (a woman interrupts a dinner party) and two members of the group tell two different stories, one tragic and one comic. Unfortunately, the comedy part is not that funny, and the tragedy part is too funny.
It’s painful to see good actors such as Chloë Sevigny, Jonny Lee Miller, Will Ferrell and Chiwetel Ejiofor (to name just a few in this cast) as underused as they are. It’s watchable but not necessarily likable. Everything about this movie is supposed to be good, but nothing is.
7. Scoop (2006)
“Scoop” was lauded as a comedy-mystery, although the dialogue wasn’t funny enough for the movie to be a comedy and not suspenseful enough for the movie to be a mystery.
In an ill-conceived “Thin Man”-esque plot, young journalism student Sondra (played by Scarlett Johansson) investigates a murder suspect and aristocrat named Peter (Hugh Jackman) with the help of the ghost of the victim, Joe (played by Ian McShane), and a befuddled magician, Sid (played by Allen).
The plot is genuinely interesting, but is carried out terribly, and the leading actors don’t do anything to save it. Used as another failed love letter to London (one of the four London films), the movie employs overdone tropes like female journalists falling in love with their subjects and a weird Macbeth-like ghost. Oddly enough, the best part of this dismal film was Allen himself. He was charming and amusing as his character, The Great Splendini.
8. Whatever Works (2009)
You would hope that a Larry David movie would be as hilarious as his television shows, but you would be wrong. David plays Boris, a brilliant but depressed former professor at Columbia University, whose failed suicide attempt leads him to move to Chinatown and criticize people of lesser intelligence.
Boris eventually meets Melody (played by Evan Rachel Wood), a sweet but dumb girl from the South. This May-December relationship creates a rift, and chaos ensues.
David essentially plays the role Allen would normally play, but somehow, he was worse. The point of this movie may have just been in the title, “whatever works” to make yourself happy. However, the problem was that this movie stemmed more from the awful characters rather than the confusing plot.
The plot is unbelievable, but not as unbelievable as Evan Rachel Wood falling for Larry David. Allen has Wood’s character playing the dumb Southern blonde and sleeping with almost every character in the film (except for her own father). The story was too full of misogyny and general misanthropy to ever be a good film.
9. You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
The last of the London films, “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger” is about two unhappy married couples. Everybody is cheating on everybody else, because in Allen’s movies, you can’t just be happy with one person.
Alfie (played by Anthony Hopkins) leaves his wife Helena (played by Gemma Jones) for a prostitute, while their daughter (played by Naomi Watts) considers an affair with her boss while currently supporting her writer husband (played by Josh Brolin), who is obsessed with another woman.
No one is happy at the end of this movie and no one is particularly happy watching it. There is something completely unsatisfying about watching people cause their own problems and then whine about them. The film is cynical and it’s been done before many times, especially by Allen. Some consider it the best of the London films, although it is still pretty bad.
10. To Rome With Love (2012)
In the similar spirit of “Midnight in Paris” — a much better Allen film — “To Rome With Love” is made of four separate stories in the great city. These tales took place separately, never truly connecting, and stringing along confusing and pointless plot lines.
The four stories consisted of: an older man and a younger man, played by Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg, and their romantic woes; Woody Allen as a retired opera director bullying a mortician into becoming an opera star; a half baked Fellini romp consisting of a young couple separated and tempted to commit adultery; and finally, an ordinary man, played by Roberto Benigni, who all of a sudden gains fame seemingly out of nowhere.
The most charming part of the movie was perhaps the shower opera singer. While this was a dead-end plot, it was one of the only entertaining parts. Allen had a great cast — Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page — but reduced the female characters to temptresses and male characters to whining cheaters. It was a fantastic waste of a cast.