Zelig is a hilarious 1983 mockumentary by Woody Allen about Leonard Zelig, a man who became famous in the 1920s for his chameleon-like ability to look and act like whoever he is near.

The movie seamlessly integrates Allen as Zelig into historic newsreel footage, and uses archival pictures, voice-over narration, and interviews with people who knew Zelig as well as commentators like Susan Sontag and Saul Bellow to give a true documentary-like portrait of Zelig. Allen, as you know, is a rather odd-looking personage, so just picture that weird little man as a black surrounded by jazz musicians; a baseball player on a diamond with Babe Ruth; a fat man amongst the obese; an Asian in Chinatown; a Fascist alongside Hitler; a Catholic by the Pope; an orthodox Jew in a synagogue. (Well, okay, we've seen the latter before, but the rest is new.)

A theme of the movie is the fickle nature of fame; Zelig becomes a craze, and Zelig products flood the marketplace; later, he falls from public grace and is vilified. A related theme is the absurdity of herd mentality, as people love, then hate, the odd man. And Zelig himself is the ultimate conformist, the uber-sheep, wanting to fit in so badly that he literally transforms his body and his personality to fit in with those around him.

Unless they're women. Always a man, Zelig gains a personality of his own under the loving attentions and analysis of psychologist Eudora Fletcher, played by Mia Farrow in fetching geek girl glasses. Inevitably, the two fall in love and announce their intention to marry; the world is charmed, then horrified, as women start coming forward to say they're already married to him. Now scorned, Zelig fades into anonymity as only a cipher can, caught every once in a while on camera in an unlikely location.

The shortest of Allen films, this is also a funny and intelligent one. Highly recommended.