Deconstructing Harry

04  MAR
Harry Block wrote a bestseller about his best friends. Now, his best friends are about to become his worst enemies.

Directed by  Woody Allen
Written by  Woody Allen
Starring:  Woody Allen (Harry Block)
Elisabeth Shue (Fay)
Kirstie Alley (Joan)
Billy Crystal (Larry)
Hazelle Goodman (Cookie)
Amy Irving (Jane)
Demi Moore (Helen)
Robin Williams (Mel)
Runtime: 95 minutes
Harry Block is a well-regarded novelist whose tendency to thinly-veil his own experiences in his work, as well as his un-apologetic attitude and his proclivity for pills and whores, has left him with three ex-wives that hate him. As he is about to be honored for his writing by the college that expelled him, he faces writer's block and the impending marriage of his latest flame to a writer friend. As scenes from his stories and novels pass and interact with him, Harry faces the people whose lives he has affected - wives, lovers, his son, his sister. - Gary Dickerson

I'm not a Woody Allen fan. I haven't seen many of his movies and, actually, I can only clearly remember one of them, Mighty Aphrodite, which I found fairly nice but not exceptionally worth noting. Deconstructing Harry is even worse and it won't surely push me to see any further Allen autobiography... err, I meant, movie...

The main character, Harry Block, is a writer who often uses his own past experience as a basis for his novels. He is obsessed by sex, he is somewhat paranoid and he is always under treatment with a psychiatrist. In other words, he just looks like Woody Allen himself! The main plot is about Harry who is trying to recover from the writer's block and who wants to find someone to accompany him to visit a college where he should receive an award.

Only a minor part of the movie actually deals with this main plot, most of the time is spent in the narration of short stories written by Harry that tell about his life using invented characters and half-real situations. These fictional characters and the 'real' counterparts are played by different actors (including some famous names like Demi Moore and Robin Williams) with the notable exception of Billy Crystal who plays both the 'real' Larry and 'the Devil'. Some of these episodes are nice but I didn't like this sort of (dis)organisation of the plot.

One thing that is immediately evident is that the movie is very vulgar. Allen always uses sex-related jokes and situations but this time he seems to exaggerate with bad words and colourful expressions. One or two blow-job jokes are nice but here we have dozens of them! There are also many jokes about religion (especially about Jews) which didn't touch me at all.

On the positive side, there are the usual Allen's one-liners that are very witty and a few (but not many) entertaining scenes. Some of them aren't completely original (such as the scene with the Death getting the wrong person and yet another elevator trip down to Hell) but they were still funny, others were both ingenious and amusing. My preferred one was the jewish religious celebration with all the people wearing Star Wars costumes (or were them Spaceballs costumes?).

From what I have seen, Woody Allen often writes movie that either seems to be an auto-biography or that are a sort of advertisement for himself. I hope that with Deconstructing Harry he reached the maximum level in both these points so that he can now try to do something different... if he is able to do this... which I seriously doubt...

Rating: 6.0  **

Links:  Official Site




© Copyright Sergio Monesi, 1997-1999.
Last updated: 25 Jun 1999