What: Wonder Wheel
Where: At a cinema near you
Who: Another new Woody Allen film with a great cast that falls way too short of it’s potential
When: Wonder Wheel can now be seen anywhere in the U.S. and the UK
Why: Winslet overacts and Timberlake barely acts
Has Woody Allen lost his touch?
‘Wonder Wheel’, his 50th ish film, just released in cinemas, is, to put it bluntly, not very good. While there are some elements to the film that typical Woody Allenesque, overall Wonder Wheel is a sign that perhaps he should just hang up his director’s hat and call it a career.
In ‘Wonder Wheel’ (a reference to the giant Ferris Wheel in Coney Island), Kate Winslet plays Ginny, a still beautiful yet a bit over-the-hill former aspiring actress now living in an apartment smack dab overlooking Brooklyn’s famous Coney Island. She’s married to the schlub Humpty (geez, what a name though played admirably by Jim Belushi), who runs the merry-go-round, and they have a young son who happens to enjoy lighting fires.
Ginny, happens, one day, to notice lifeguard Mickey (an overreaching Justin Timberlake). Ginny takes a fancy to him, and he takes a fancy to her, and before you know it they are having an affair. But Ginny is very insecure, and the minute Mickey even looks at another woman, Ginny can’t handle it. Worse yet, Humpty’s beautiful and young daughter Carolina (Juno Temple) comes to stay with them (and she also has the mafia on her tale – it’s a subplot that’s a bit ridiculous and a bit of a distraction), and, yes you guessed it, somehow Mickey and Carolina meet and Ginny’s fantasies of escaping her humdrum life are over.
Winslet pulls out all stops to play Ginny but it ends up being a bit too much. Her Ginny is both extremely insecure and perhaps a bit crazy, and Winslet can’t quite stop overreaching. And while Belushi and Temple are both fines in their roles, it’s the overall arc of the story and the not very believable location setting that makes ‘Wonder Wheel’ far down the scale of Allen’s films. Allen, who wrote and directed this film, desperately needs to rethink his next movie, though he’s already shot ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ and it stars hot young Oscar-nominated Timothée Chalamet. Don’t hold your breath.
Review by Tim Baros
Photo by Warner Bros.