NEW YORK (WABC) -- It's hard to believe a master filmmaker like Woody Allen would stoop to such mediocrity as 'Wonder Wheel,' which like too many of his movies, plays like a series of clumsy sketches rather than a finished work of art.
The time is Coney Island in the 1950s, and that seems like a great setting for a movie; but there is nothing wonderful about "Wonder Wheel" -- with the exception of Juno Temple who gets romanced by Justin Timberlake's 'Mikey' character after the lifeguard has already seduced her stepmother.
"When it comes to love we often turn out to be our own worst enemies," observes the stepmother: a waitress played by Kate Winslet. She is bowed if not quite broken by her marriage to 'Humpty,' a rude & crude guy overplayed by Jim Belushi. Seeing him rant and rage is like watching high school acting at its most juvenile and unsophisticated.
Next, add in his stepson who is a pyromaniac. Then, add a crazy subplot involving gangsters chasing Juno's character, and you will start to see why critics are using words like 'overwrought' to describe this mess. In a typical scene, Kate's character 'Ginny' goes, "my head is pounding. Everything is coming apart." To balance her desperation, there's a hint of joy in the Coney Island scenes which were shot on location, but the rundown apartment where this miserable family lives -- is as fake as the scenes that play out there.
"Don't you think you're being a little melodramatic?" Ginny asks at one point. Uh, YES!
Woody Allen's new movie is an unpleasant film about unpleasant people featuring some of the worst acting by major stars this year. The idea it might be part of the Oscar conversation is ridiculous.
Sandy Kenyon says there's nothing wonderful about 'Wonder Wheel'