A movie by Woody Allen, released in 1987.

This film has no real plot to speak of; it consists of a series of vignettes that alternate between the life of a Jewish family in Rockaway Beach - all faded yellows and comfortable family - and the glamourous world of New York and radio - all shiny whites and scheming players. Roger Ebert raves about this film: to him it captures perfectly his nostalgia for the forties, when he, like Allen, was a teenager glued to the radio.

For those like me who were not yet born, there is still resonance in the scenes of the adolescent Woody character - a geeky Seth Green as Joe - obsessing over the Green Lantern, using dimes collected for Israel to buy a decoder ring, only to get discovered and smacked upside the head by his mother (Julie Kavner), his father, (Michael Tucker), and of course the rabbi. Allen narrates the movie, though he never appears. Still, it plays like a who's who of his former stars - Mia Farrow as an ambitious cigarette girl, Wallace Shawn as the Masked Avenger, Danny Aiello as a gangster momma's boy, Dianne Wiest as Joe's lovelorn but ever hopeful Aunt Bea. (One of her dates runs out of gas, only to dash off into the night after hearing H.G. Wells' fateful broadcast of The War of the Worlds, leaving her to be savaged by aliens.)

And through it all runs a wonderful soundtrack of lush forties hits, one after another, providing a thread to link together the anecdotes that make up the film.

Ultimately, it's the lack of plot that puts some critics off this flick, but don't let it stop you from enjoying it. This sweet little movie follows on the heels of some of my very favourite Allen movies: Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, and Manhattan, and if it lacks some of their greatness, it compensates with gentle easy charm. Great fun, and recommended.


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