Broadway Danny Rose (Movie Review)

Movie Review
Broadway Danny Rose
1984
Starring: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Nick Apollo Forte
Directed by: Woody Allen

Aside from the acting performances, there is nothing truly remarkable about Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose. It has a good story and is entertaining but, on its own, it will not blow you away. Allen’s love letter to New York, Mia Farrow, and some cheesy comedic lines make this a charming film. If you’re not a fan of Allen, you need not watch this but otherwise this is a cute little piece of cinema.

Hapless agent Danny Rose (Woody Allen) is fumbling around trying to find acts for his stuttering ventriloquists and animal balloonists. Every time he finds a client that has potential, they leave him for bigger and better things. One-hit wonder Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte) enters his life and Danny breaks his back to bring Lou back to greatness. Danny lines up gig after gig and is starting to get some momentum in Lou’s sails. Eventually Danny gets Lou a spot on a show Milton Berle is doing. A successful showing will undoubtedly lead to Lou breaking big.

The day of the show, Danny is told to bring Lou’s mistress, Tina Vitale (Mia Farrow), to the show. Danny, while worried that Lou’s stepping out on his wife could derail his career, relents and goes to pick up Tina outside of the city. However, things don’t go smoothly, and Danny finds himself chasing after Tina at a party filled with mobsters. After Tina’s mobster ex-boyfriend is embarrassed at the party, Danny and Tina scurry back to New York with the mob in pursuit. During this adventure, Tina and Danny strike up a friendship. Even with this incident causing distress, Danny feels rather good about life. However, unbeknownst to him, Tina’s in Lou’s ear about dropping Danny as an agent.

If you like Woody Allen-style movies, then you’re going to really love this film. If you don’t care for this style, there’s no convincing you that flick is any good. From the black-and-white cinematography, making himself the star, and making everything about New York; nothing Allen brings here is new. It feels more like a “greatest hits” of Allen’s signature techniques. Not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing; we like to watch movies that we’ve seen before because of the familiarity they bring. Still, it must be said that as far as Woody Allen movies go, this does have a slight air of a paint-by numbers feeling to it.

The real standout of the movie is Mia Farrow. Her portrayal of Tina is exceptionally done. Even though the focus is primarily on Allen throughout the film, Farrow’s character and her performance bring colour to the movie. Farrow’s range matches Tina’s complexity. Farrow really brings out the idea that Tina is a woman still trying to figure things out even though she seems on the outside to have the world wrapped around her finger. A less-talented actress would have played up that Tina is a big shot and found difficulty with the intricacies of the character. Instead, Farrow seems to focus on the mundane details of Tina and let the other characters on screen focus on Tina’s aura. It makes for a much deeper character than perhaps even Allen had intended.

Yet, there is no denying this is a love letter to New York and show business. There are plenty of cameos and shots of iconic places around the city. The story, while somewhat interesting, isn’t unique and each step of the way seems rather obvious. Certain movies can get away with this if they’re charming enough and for Broadway Danny Rose, that really depends on how charming you think is Woody Allen. This movie almost feels like it’s geared towards a certain segment of the population as those who are not into New York, show business, or Woody Allen may stick their nose up at this film. It’ll be interesting to see as time goes on and some of film stars fade and are forgotten if the film will still stand up.

Speaking of standing up over time, I must interject about something concerning this film. Normally, I refrain from putting a movie within a time period because when I review a movie, I try to watch it regardless of what year it is; regardless of whether the movie was released last week or last century. However, at the time of this writing, there has been much controversy over Woody Allen and his personal life. Considering Allen has not been found guilty of any crime, it’s still kind of off-putting (to say the least) when his character is hitting on a 12-year-old girl during a scene. It may come off as a harmless one-liner but considering the stories that have come out about Allen, I felt uncomfortable with the line. Also, considering he plays the main character of the film, feeling any sympathy for a guy who in real life might be a sleaze (and that might be putting nicely) takes something out of the film for me.

Therefore, I did come into this movie with a bit of a bias towards Allen, although before details of his personal life became more newsworthy, I was not the biggest Woody Allen fan; there were some films that I liked and others I did not. With that said, Broadway Danny Rose is a decent film (even with a potentially indecent line). Had I not been working on this film project; I would not have watched the film. As a piece of cinematic history, it’s good, but Allen has done better; both before and after this movie. If you’re an Allen fan and you’ve yet to see this movie, you probably will enjoy it. Despite my star rating, I don’t feel comfortable recommending it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Jamie Gore

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