Usually, within about 15 minutes, the answer is apparent, and usually the answer is no. But even a fan has to acknowledge that at this late stage the Good Ones have become far and few between and that rote mediocrities like "To Rome With Love", "Magic in the Moonlight", "Irrational Man", and "Café Society" have become the norm. Babe Ruth hit a lot of home runs, but most of the time he made out, and when he did get a hit, it was usually a single. In nearly any other filmmaker's oeuvre, this film would be considered a highlight. It's right up there with "Melinda and Melinda" and "Scoop". Despite Storaro's sterling contributions, the amusement park ride outside Humpty and Ginny's apartment isn't the only wheel that's spinning here. Here's a pretty young woman falling in love with her stepmother's boyfriend. The line is one of many doosies that are uttered here.
In order to enjoy "Wonder Wheel", it is necessary for the audience to accept a convenience of the plot that doesn't make much sense: Carolina (Temple) has left her mobster husband and has told her story to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Humpty and Ginny bicker over money, over his alcoholism, over her son (from an earlier man), over his daughter (from an earlier woman), their scenes playing out like sped-up mid-century theater drama, all blue-collar bluntness and declamatory psychology. So what does she do? Married to Humpty (Jim Belushi) and carrying on an affair with lifeguard Mickey (Justin Timberlake), Ginny expresses her malaise by complaining about constant headaches, and Allen has her gulping down aspirins in every scene as if this lends the character depth. This is the first place that gangsters would look. He uses more green screens than a "Star Wars" movie, framing this small, sordid tale within massive, postcard-perfect vistas, the tacky falseness of the images commenting on the rottenness at the core of surface nostalgia. She's a great actress who throws herself and then some, with varying success, into a character who feels like warmed-over version of Cate Blanchett's character in "Blue Jasmine". Ginny (Kate Winslet giving a terrific performance that nearly makes me forget The Mountain Between Us exists) is unhappy as the wife to Humpty (Saturday Night Live alumni and Chicago's own Jim Belushi), often neglected with references to physical abuse (although never depicted on-screen).
DC FILMS Staff Shake-Up Following JUSTICE LEAGUE Performance
Johns will stay as a chief creative officer with DC Entertainment, but his work on the films could be reduced to an advisory role. The execs are said to be happy with how Justice League introduced both Ezra Miller's The Flash and Jason Momoa's Aquaman .
Too bad the screenplay's all stuff plucked from Woody's recycling bin, including not one but two instances of the old Allen standby in which the manly stud gives flighty women books to read. He also has a way of finding grand moral issues - the matters of conscience that define entire lives - through seemingly small events. But in an attempt to exaggerate Allen's trademarks, "Wonder Wheel" doesn't present anything new to his canon and exacerbates the film's common plot and trite character flaws.
Justin Timberlake and his very bare legs play lifeguard and aspiring playwright Mickey, who has what he considers a summer fling with Ginny (Kate Winslet), a near-40 waitress in an unsatisfying second marriage. Then again, there is something artificial, or at least heightened and operatic, about the entire movie - the sets, the colors, the situations, the performers. Yet, like Timberlake, there is something true at the core of what he's doing. But everyone in "Wonder Wheel" goes on and on in stiff, wordy monologues that play like knock-offs of Odets, William Inge, Tennessee Williams, and other heavy hitters from the era of "serious" Broadway and "Playhouse 90". It also shows how things in life can change like the seasons but that they also often stay exactly the same. Alas, "Wonder Wheel" is a return to the familiar grind, running off a checklist of the filmmaker's exhausted pet obsessions while occasionally playing like a parody of post-war Broadway miserabilism.