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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

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    Woody Allen’s Tea Party Rant

    By kyle | May 11, 2011

    In Woody Allen’s semi-unbearable new item “Midnight in Paris,” the businessman who is about to become the father-in-law of the hero (Owen Wilson) is all but stamped “evil Republican.” Allen’s bleat on what Republicans are like couldn’t be more boring, but then again the whole movie is boring (except for one scene about the limits of nostalgia). Wilson, who plays a hack screenwriter who wishes to ditch Beverly Hills and become a starving novelist in Paris, thinks he is being reasonable when he opines that only a “demented lunatic” could be a Republican. (Allen thinks this is a big laugh line. He’s right! The tiny audience that will see this movie will laugh. They know exactly what to expect from an Allen movie and they come to have their prejudices reinforced. Almost like they’re….closed-minded reactionaries. And I say this as a 35-year-fan of Woody’s work who wrote a paper on him in 10th grade and has seen both “Sleeper” and “Take the Money and Run” over a dozen times.) Later Wilson, channeling Woody (and doing the usual sub-Woody stammering and cringing a la John Cusack in “Bullets Over Broadway” and Kenneth Branagh in “Celebrity”) calls the Tea Party a bunch of “crypto-fascist airhead racists” (or words to that effect). Again, there’s nothing funny about the line. But one laughs, I guess, because it’s cozy to think that one is united in one’s hatreds with Woody Allen. I expect wit from Woody Allen, not meaningless gestures.

    As for Allen’s bitterest epithet, “pseudo-intellectual,” well… this movie is written by a college dropout who (a little too insistently) peppers his scripts with references to Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Ibsen, etc. Allen has Wilson travel back in time to meet Ernest Hemingway (who talks like a Middle Schooler spoofing “The Old Man and the Sea”) and Salvador Dali (who keeps thrusting his arm out to cry, “I am Dali!” while blathering about the rhinoceros). This is not what you would call an intellectual script; however, it does the audience the immense favor of flattering it and making it feel smart (hey, that guy’s Picasso!). Don’t underestimate how fond critics are of feeling smart.

    Topics: Movies | 43 Comments »

    43 Responses to “Woody Allen’s Tea Party Rant”

    1. Christian Toto Says:
      May 11th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

      It must be so safe and cozy to live in a pseudo-intellectual bubble where conflicting views never enter.

    2. JimmyC Says:
      May 11th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Well, if anyone knows about fascism, it’s the guy who publicly stated that he wants to make Obama a dictator.

    3. vandal Says:
      May 11th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      it would be nice just for once if one of these people would actually look up fascism.

    4. Andy Says:
      May 11th, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      “Whatever Works” not only wasted the talents of everyone involved, it seemed like a spoof of Woody Allen movies circa 1975.

      There too, so many ridiculous stereotypes. Apparently “whatever” works as long as it doesn’t mean being Southern, Christian or NOT living life on the fringe.

    5. Bugg Says:
      May 11th, 2011 at 9:33 pm

      Even if you concede everything Allen says as true only for argument’s sake, he slept with and eventually married his underage stepdaughter.No one can sqaure that circle. How is it possible anyone has anything to do with him? His movies lose money, and his former business partners parted ways with him long ago. In a just world he’d would be living in a fridge box, right next to Roman Polanski.

      After “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (a very good movie)he took his own theme to heart; Allen decided virtue and morality were pointless and has since lived his life accordingly.When most people’s consciences grow with age, Allen discarded his own. His art is now devoid of morality, nor anything interesting. His movies now suck, even devoid of any sense of humor that made his early movies so much fun.Dirty old men now have the internet to oggle the likes of Rachel MacAdams or Scarlett Johansen, so no one is paying $12 to see them in another 2-hour Allen boring dreck fest.

    6. K Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 2:57 am

      . . his is not what you would call an intellectual script; however, it does the audience the immense favor of flattering it and making it feel smart.

      I thought that was the entire point of haute kulture.

    7. JR Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 6:10 am

      He became unfunny to me the moment he divorced his wife and married his adopted daughter. Btw, Crimes and Misdemeanors was brilliant, and I agree, it was the last work of his that was worth a damn.

      I personally don’t care about his rants. Blather on, Woody. However, your voice is pitchy and you’re singing to the choir, which is not only unfunny, it’s not entertaining. The worst crime that a performer can commit.

    8. westie Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 7:39 am

      Was Woody Allen the guy who almost burned the flag in Baton Rouge recently…it is uncanny how far Woody will go for a bit of free pr for his crappy movies.

    9. EdSki Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 8:23 am

      So Woody Allen doesn’t like tea party members…

      One more reason to be a proud member!

    10. ss794 Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 8:53 am

      A pedophile (Allen) speaking out against the TEA Party make the TEA Party look better.
      Woody Allen is what Stalin called a “useful idiot.”

    11. Obama bin Biden Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 10:25 am

      Actually it was Lenin that referred to the useful idiots who I believe has a cameo in the movie. Watch any Obama rally and see history repeating itself right before your eyes.

    12. raphael a Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      As a former English teacher, could you please do something about this sentence:
      “Woody Allen’s semi-unbearable new item “Midnight in Paris” contains a character, a businessman who is the wife of the fiancee (Rachel McAdams) of the hero (Owen Wilson), who is all but stamped “evil Republican.” This reads as if the businessman is a wife. It’s also a terrible run-on.

    13. Kyle Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      Do you mean to say, “As a former English teacher, I would like to ask you to do something about this sentence”?

      The way you’ve structured your sentence makes it sound as if I am a former English teacher.

      My sentence, on the other hand, is grammatically correct, though obviously I meant to say ‘father” instead of “wife.” (The longish phrase that bothers you is called an “appositive.” Look it up.) If the sentence is too long for you, may I suggest you retire to take a nap in the middle of it?

    14. Bilwick Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Of course. Because if history–especially modern history–teaches us anything, it’s that the State is our best friend, and the more power and money we give it (or rather, “that it takes”), the better off we are.

      And of course in the Bizarro universe “liberals”* inhabit, “fascism” means “limiting the power of the State,” not increasing it.


    15. Climbr880 Says:
      May 12th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      ss794: I wouldn’t call him all that useful.

    16. bandit Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 6:49 am

      Who’s Woody Allen? You mean from the ’70’s?

    17. Greg Toombs Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 6:53 am

      “a little too insistently”

      Allen’s whole oeuvre insists upon himself.

    18. furious Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 6:55 am

      The guy bangs his step-daughter, what more do you need to know?

    19. JoeYnot Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 8:28 am

      To understand Woody Allen’s bad movies–and it sounds like this one is a perfect example–see “Deconstructing Harry,” which is slavishly autobiographical in spirit, if not in precise events.

      Sounds as if watching “Deconstructing Harry” followed by immediately by this movie would be a fascinating experience.

      I thought the final two-thirds of “Vicki Christina Barcelona” were terrific, but that’s pretty much it in the last 10 years.

    20. subrot0 Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 9:22 am

      Woody Allen’s best movie, “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.” Beautiful scenery, beautiful music and upstate New York. And I was trying to impress my girlfriend.

      After that his movies sucked. I was also gave up trying to impress my girlfriend.

      His best cameo performance was where he pulls out Marshall McLuhan to refute someone.

      The best thing I can say about Woody. Its time to go gently into that good night and soon.

    21. Sardondi Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 10:49 am

      “Don’t underestimate how fond critics are of feeling smart.”

      But it’s audiences that Woody has used that ancient trick on for more than 30 years. His movies are crack for their vanity: They see themselves as intellectuals (because they read The New Yorker bwahahahhaha!), artistic and ironic, politically committed liberals but caring, in a Bobby Kennedy kind of way. They think it means something wonderful about them that they watch the Wood Man’s flicks simply because so few people do.

      Look, when Woody first had The Emperor’s New Clothes read to him, he knew he had a gig for life.

    22. Swill swell Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 10:51 am

      It’s been observed that as the natural progression of taste is from sweet to sour, the natural evolution of politics is from liberal to politics. Wordsworth, Dos Passos, Steinbeck, Bellow, and many others all moved towards the right as they got older. When you think about it, it shows a certain amount of flexibility in their thinking. The Hollywood left, however, does not bend. It crusts over. Hollywood has been dealing in stereotypes since D.W. Griffith. Lately corporate Republicans have replaced Nazis as diabolically evil villians, and Christians have replaced blacks as good natured simpletons. It’s all the same to them. The subtext of Allen movies is not about the evil of the world but about the goodness of the Woody. Occasionally, he still comes up with a first rate wisecrack, and some mistakes that for wisdom.

    23. Exurban Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      I had to read that first sentence a couple of times myself. It could be improved.

      Sleeper is indeed a great movie. It’s astonishing how little it has dated since it appeared in 1973 (!). Comedy was Allen’s forte, and that’s probably the best one he ever made.

    24. Kyle Says:
      May 13th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Sleeper is great. And even some recent Allen efforts, like Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, are not far off his best work. But a lot of his movies seem like they were written over the weekend. Whatever Works is one and so is Midnight in Paris. Making a film a year isn’t necessarily a good idea if you wind up filming your first draft pretty often.

    25. raphael a Says:
      May 15th, 2011 at 8:40 am

      1. Riffing about Woody Allen’s political views is pointless; they’ve been known for years, and aptly summarized in Everybody Says I Love You, where Lukas Hass’s conservative views are discovered to be due to a brain defect.
      2. Most good indie directors – Woody Allen, Hal Hartley, Eric Rohmer, -make good movies featuring the foibles and comeuppance of those who are too smart for their own good. Their politics are usually standard issue “shallow left,” i.e. Republicans/religious/businessmen bad, safety-net/atheist/liberals good. This simplistic view of the world gets in the way of conservatives enjoying the movie but they don’t care; their audiences are 90% liberal.
      3. Kyle, – or Mr. smith if you prefer, -call it an appositive or call it late for dinner, but your opening sentence sucked, which is why you’ve revised it three times since I pointed it out. You can thank me later.
      4. Finally, bad Woody Allen is still better than most final drafts that make it to the screen. I liked the recent Match Point and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Few filmmakers today could pull off a Deconstructing Harry. Kyle apparently was there that weekend of Stardust Memories and likes Woody’s “early, funnier movies.” But it’s simply wrong for anyone to dislike any director that ends one of his movies with the line; “L.A.. where losers from New York go to become millionaires.”

    26. Plaintruth Says:
      June 14th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      Quote from a crazy liberal:

      “Let him who is without sin, throw the first stone”

    27. Dumberdown Says:
      June 23rd, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      You people are returded. Midnight in Paris is a great movie…just beacuse you’ve never heard of Ibsen or never read a lick of Hemingway doesn’t mean this is some liberal/commie movie. (BTW- Woody Allen is a Republican.)

      I recommend you rent Date Movie on Netflix.
      More your speed, pseudo-dipweeds.

    28. Kyle Says:
      June 24th, 2011 at 2:38 am

      Woody Allen is not even close to being a Republican, you fool.

    29. kishke Says:
      June 24th, 2011 at 9:34 am


      That’s a good thing, right?

    30. Kyle Says:
      June 24th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Preferable to a genuine dipweed, I think.

    31. Andy Says:
      June 25th, 2011 at 12:43 am

      Normally I don’t point out stupid spelling or grammatical mistakes because we all slip sometimes, but come on, if you’re going to insult the intelligence of a slew of people and call them “returded” then at least spell “because” correctly. And jeez, where the Hell would anyone with an iota of smarts get the idea Woody Allen is a Republican?

      And, btw, I liked Date Movie, just as I “like” Ibsen (if that’s really the right word to use for Ibsen) and Hemingway; and btw, Woody Allen has literally never written or directed a movie in his entire career that has grossed as much as Date Movie.

    32. Alex Says:
      June 30th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      “it’s cozy to think that one is united in one’s hatreds with Woody Allen”

      Could also read:

      it’s cozy to think that one is united in one’s hatreds toward Woody Allen

      Enjoy stroking yourselves, idiots.

    33. Kyle Says:
      July 5th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      Except I don’t hate Woody Allen. In fact I’d say he’s created more good movies than any other filmmaker. I’ve seen his top eight or so movies a total of probably 80 times.

    34. lobizao Says:
      August 6th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      I and everyone I know love this movie and wet all think is way more than bearable. Too bad you couldn’t enjoy it because of yourbackwards political views. The funny thing is that your annoyed by the movie when you are kind of contradicting what you wrote on this website header

    35. ibuguser Says:
      August 31st, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Really, you thought it was boring? I’ve seen the movie twice already, in Vienna and in a packed cinema, and I thought it was hilarious and so did most people leaving the theater.

      Then again, Europeans are more surreal than their overseas counterparts (I’m not a European so no need to defensive about that).

      I didn’t think that Allen tried to portray all republicans are evil, just demented lunatics 🙂

    36. Kaspar Kamu Says:
      October 31st, 2011 at 6:28 am

      If I’m not mistaken, the rant isn’t about republicans. It’s about the Iraq war.

    37. Jen Says:
      May 3rd, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      I enjoyed the movie, and the dreamy Parisian air, and the interpretations of those incredible personalities–Bates’ depiction of Gertrude Stein was interesting. And yes–the Tea Partiers are demented lunatics. From climate change denial, creationism, the birthers, the complete and utter disrespect for any culture or sophistication, the insistence of merging Church and State, and other multifarious inanities.

    38. Kyle Says:
      May 6th, 2013 at 11:34 am

      “Incredible” does not mean “fascinating” or “well-known.”

    39. SK Says:
      May 6th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      It’s false to characterize the Tea Party as being about climate-change denial, creationism, and the other issues that Jen listed. Andrew Breitbart, for example, was always speaking at Tea Party events, and those weren’t his issues. I think of the Tea Party as being about limited government and following the Constitution.

      Remember when Jennifers wanted to be called Jenny/Jennie? Now every Jennifer is a Jen. So individual.

    40. SK Says:
      May 6th, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      I watched The Vow recently. The plot is that a newly married couple (Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams) are in a car accident that causes the wife to lose all memory of her husband. Even worse, she does not recall voting for Barack Obama for president.

    41. Rufus Firefly Says:
      May 7th, 2013 at 5:09 pm


      I was probably about 14 (over 30 years ago) when I stumbled onto Allen’s book, “Without Feathers.” I still think it’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. And, like you, I think quite a few of his films are brilliant; however, I’m with Bugg and JR.

      Once I learned he committed step-incest with his live-in girl friend’s barely legal daughter I wrote the guy off. He has since made movies that I know I would enjoy, but I can’t wrap my head around giving him any support.

      This isn’t a criticism of you. If it were my job to review his films I would, but I do find it hard to understand that he has not been ostracized for his lecherous behavior towards a minor child.

    42. Kyle Says:
      May 7th, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      1) She wasn’t his live-in girlfriend’s daughter. He never lived with Mia Farrow and barely had a relationship with her children. (As they subsequently testified.) He was in no way a father figure to any of them.
      2) She wasn’t a minor child.
      3) She turned out to be the love of his life. They’ve been together for more than 20 years, far longer than any of his other relationships lasted.

    43. MIke Says:
      August 14th, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      I see the movie as pretentiousness versus modesty, romance versus materialism. The political remarks are side jokes. Don’t take it seriously. Allen doesn’t take you seriously.