Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

Everyone Says I Love You is Woody Allen’s entry to the musical genre. It knows it is; the narration recognizes it early on. That’s just one part of this movie’s reflexivity on the musicals genre, and as a film that’s part homage and part satire, it works exceedingly well.

The film follows a few members of a family as they have their own individual run-ins with love. The ensemble cast is headed by many recognizable faces, including Edward Norton, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Goldie Hawn, Alan Alda, a young Natalie Portman, and of course, Woody Allen himself. The film follows these characters with different degrees of commitment, and to be honest, I found Allen’s character’s storyline the least engaging. But really, all of the plotlines and character arches are at least interesting, and the jumping around interspersed with collective moments where they all intersect really makes the film move with an upbeat energy.

In some ways it’s surprising that the film can stay so kinetic. Allen uses very long takes during his group dialogues amongst the ensemble cast, refusing to cut sometimes for entire durations of scenes. This style excels here; the cast is able to stay in character for a whole conversation, and the arguing and conflicts among the characters stay unbroken by editing, retaining their tension and humor throughout an entire shot.

These long fluid ensemble shots are part of the reason the film harkens back to earlier MGM musicals of the 40s and 50s. At the same time, it also makes the film seem theatrical, in both its execution and the sometimes purposefully hammy performances and silly mishaps. Like a good play, every character is developed and performed well, and all of them have their own very active roles in the central theme of love.

The songs satisfy as well, being able to both advance plots or characters as well as being catchy and fun to listen to. Allen wanted a musical with ordinary actors singing their own parts, so the songs don’t sound like they’re straight off of Broadway, but it’s just another aspect of appeal for this film. By the way, according to Wikipedia, Goldie Hawn was asked to sing worse than she really does to sound more ordinary, and Drew Barrymore’s the only actor who had to have their voice dubbed – she said it was too bad even for the ordinary voice feel Allen was going for.

Anyway, from Norton’s opening number singing around a park (I got feelings of Enchanted and (500) Days of Summer from it) to the always enjoyable Patrick Crenshaw singing from beyond the grave, the film stays alive with signature neurotic Woody Allen humor, a few plotlines to follow, excellent ensemble work, and interesting music. Everyone Says I Love You is an excellent movie for anyone who enjoys musicals, Woody Allen films, or really, just good, funny movies.

Final rating: 9/10

–James A. Janisse





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