Melinda and Melinda
(NEW REVIEW) The set-up: Four people at dinner in a trendy New York eatery. (Haven’t we been here before? Yes, we have, and with one of the same guys, Wallace Shawn, in My Dinner With Andre. Lee pointed out that the other guy even looked like Andre.) Two are dramatists, one a money-making comic writer, sort of a tubby Neil Simon, the other a respected but not nearly so successful tragedian. The four are discussing whether life is essentially tragic or comic. Soon they are more or less dueling, taking the same situation and brainstorming how it could be done. And we begin to see the stories played out, basically the same story but approached from a comic and a tragic perspective. Neat. I like that.
Neither story is fully fleshed out, but they aren’t meant to be. You are supposed to see the bones showing, and Shawn even says at one point “And now all the elements are in place for a romantic comedy.” Whereupon Will Ferrell does some funny stuff, close to slapstick. Yes, I said Will Ferrell. He plays the part that was obviously written (by Woody) for Woody. If you’ve seen any of his movies, you know the part. And, sadly, it’s a part I’ve grown very tired of … when played by Woody. Bringing Ferrell in to take the part was probably the smartest thing the Woodman did here. Ferrell delivers the same wry one-liners, is the same self-deprecating schlub that Woody has played countless times, but he brings a new presence to the role and I liked it a lot.