Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fading Gigolo (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

Woody Allen Is Not
A “Fading Gigolo”

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Q. When is a Woody Allen movie not a Woody Allen movie?

A. When it’s made by John Turturro.

That’s “Fading Gigolo,” the new comedy (kinda) that’s currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

Written, directed, and starring John Turturro, you’d think this story about a guy who services a lot of women would be his vanity project alone. But he takes our eye off the balling (yes, a deliberate pun) by casting Woody Allen as his sidekick.

We love Woody Allen’s annual movies (well, the earlier funny ones, if you want to buy into the cliché he created for himself in “Stardust Memories”), but these days the Woodman (not a deliberate pun) comes with a lot of baggage.

Even if we ignore the string of romances with his leading ladies (Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow, et al.), there’s the seduction of his partner’s stepdaughter (Soon-Yi Previn), now his wife. And that’s compounded by recent allegations of child molestation by Mia Farrow’s daughter Dylan.

Facts or fictions, Woody might be well served to stay away from sex comedies for a while.

But his pal John Turturro has pulled him into this story about a not-so-handsome older Lothario named Fioravante (that’s Turturro’s role) who decides to sell his stud services to women in order to raise money for his needy friend Murray (that’s Woody Allen’s role). To help the cause Murray acts as Fioravante’s manager (read: pimp).

Masquerading as a Woody Allen comedy, “Fading Gigolo” is a sex romp with a serious message. Here, we follow Fioravante’s trysts until he meets up with a grieving Jewish widow (Vanessa Paradis), the woman who is a game changer.

If we ignore the unlikely premise of John Turturro as a successful gigolo, there are still other plot points to overcome. That a doctor (Sharon Stone) would ask a patient to hook her up with a male prostitute is stretching it. And that a Colombian bombshell like Sofia Vergara would need to pay a man for sex is downright laughable.

Well, I suppose this is a comedy.

Turturro seems to have watched “Zelig” a few times too many, for here he’s trying to transform himself in a poor man’s Woody Allen. By aiding and abetting, are we to assume Woody’s passing on the baton? Or just pimping him out?

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