Jerry Falk (great Jason Biggs) is a beginning comedy writer who has a pretty nice girlfriend (Christina Ricci), who at the same time is a bit unbearable – constantly lying and too self-concentrated, and causes him more problems than smiles. What’s even worse, Amanda has a pretty crazy mother (Stockard Channing), an AA movement veteran that dreams of becoming a singer, who moves into the protagonist’s, not very spacious, house with her huge piano. Jerry also has to deal with his not very helpful agent (Danny DeVito) who charges a too huge commission, but whom the protagonist, who is an extremely, almost pathologically nice man cannot say goodbye to. Even Jerry’s psychiatrist doesn’t seem to be able to bring any relief to the young writer’s life. About all of these everyday problems and troubles the boy talks to David (Woody Allen) – a very strange man who becomes both – Jerry’s friend and master. David talks a lot – like any other character that is played by Allen, but the advices that he gives to the young comedian are rather simple – to get rid of the agent and find a proof of Amanda’s unfaithfulness.
The protagonist of the movie “Anything Else” is – like many different characters that appear in Allen’s movies and represent the alter ego of the director – is a novice writer and author of comedy sketches, who spends never-ending hours on his psychoanalyst’s coach. The man is hopelessly in love with Amanda, which the camera shows as she was a goodness of sex which is paradoxical and ironical, because every time Jerry wants to make a move on her, she goes through a panic attack. The moment we meet Jerry and Amanda, their sex life practically doesn’t exist, but – as we will realize soon – it doesn’t mean that the girl doesn’t know the meaning of hedonistic pleasures. The young writer is trying very hard to turn his girl on and make her heart sing for him again, but the more he gives, the less he gets.
The action in the movie takes place in a world that is well-known from previous Allen’s productions and the humour as usually comes from brilliant dialogues that seem to be more important than action. Jerry’s friends – as it’s easy to guess – belong to the New York’s intellectual elite. They spend their life talking about art, philosophy and old movies and the language that their use usually so pompous that it becomes grotesque. They talk to each other as they were participating in a public debate or were literature professors, but – what’s important – in Allen’s movie it’s rather a source of fun and comedy than boredom and the director’s pretentiousness.
What also should be highlighted – almost all of these funny dialogues are intertwined with more serious bitterness and even fear that seems to have source in events of 11th of September. David is pretty sure that the world will end soon and he is getting himself prepared for it. That’s why he spends so much time in military stores, where he buys more and more weapons to complete his ideal toolbox – a survival package that is supposed to let him survive the hard times. Jerry’s friend is afraid of war and generally he is not the happiest man alive. He also thinks that most of bad things that happen around are caused by anti-Semitism and people who continue Nazis’ actions.
“Anything Else” has moments of glorious humour in which Allen reaches the highest levels of his brilliancy, but also scenes which are bitter enough to truly shake the audience. Nevertheless, the movie is also not free of fragments that are pretty obvious or cliché. The director manages to create a good movie in which pure solutions are balanced by amazing dialogues.