Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Director(s): Woody Allen
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, Woody Allen
Run Time: 111 minutes
Theatrical Release: 06/22/2012
MPAA Rating: R
MPAA Explanation: for some sexual references
Common Sense Says: Allen lauds Rome in neurotic but teen-friendly comedy.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Woody Allen's ensemble comedy To Rome with Love deals largely with relationship absurdities -- the way we sabotage our connections and get in our own way --- and so may be more interesting to older teens and adults than to younger viewers. Expect cheeky, sexually tinged humor, some swearing (a few "s--t"s and one use of "f-ck"), drinking as a social lubricant, and a healthy dose of Allen's trademark angst.
- Families can talk about To Rome with Love's messages about relationships. How does it portray love and marriage? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding relationships.
- What is the movie saying about the nature of fame in the 21st century? What role does media play in that?
- How are Americans portrayed in this movie? Do you think it's a fair/accurate depiction?
- Are you familiar with any of Allen's early work? Which filmmakers have stood the test of time?
What's the story?
Woody Allen joins his ensemble in TO ROME WITH LOVE, a wooly but witty meditation on love and identity set in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. An architect (Alec Baldwin), rich and famous from building malls, revisits the romantic folly of his youth; a young man (Jesse Eisenberg) meets his fiancee's (Greta Gerwig) sexy-dangerous friend (Ellen Page), and promptly falls in love; a retired recording industry exec (Allen) discovers an unlikely opera star in the form of his daughter's soon-to-be father-in-law (Fabio Armiliato); an Italian worker bee (Roberto Benigni) gets a shot of fame; a newlywed gets sidetracked by a beguiling prostitute (Penelope Cruz); and then some.
Is it any good?
It's no Midnight in Paris, but To Rome with Love acquits itself well enough. It's certainly beautiful to look at, and the vignettes are amusing. (Some, including one that's a commentary on the nature of fame in the 21st century, are even insightful.) It's nice to see Allen pushing the absurdity once more, with one set piece featuring a literal shower singer. He stars in it, too, and his presence onscreen makes fans feel two things at once: first, how lovely it is to see him once more, as it's been far too long, and, second, how disappointing that, though entertaining, To Rome with Love doesn't quite have the heft of Allen's previous masterpieces (Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Purple Rose of Cairo). (And when will he return to New York City? His European excursions are beginning to feel like an overlong vacation.)Still, To Rome with Love is better than most of Allen's recent films, the brilliant Midnight in Paris excepted. And the ensemble is very strong. Plus, we glimpse the writer-director's genius commentary in a plotline involving an Italian everyman (played to perfection by Benigni) who becomes famous simply because the media decides he's interesting. That storyline alone is almost worth the price of entry.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Everyone's lost in a neurotic fog, but some characters are more lost than others. Eventually, some find their way.
Role Models: Almost everyone in To Rome with Love is a neurotic mess, though some are straining to wrestle their demons (not always with much success).
What to watch out for
Violence Yelling and screaming; one woman draws a knife on a man, but it's done in a comical and cartoonish manner.
Sex: Sexual references/jokes. Kissing and making out; husbands and wives cheat on each other, which is sometimes accepted as a given. A woman is shown putting on her underwear.
Language: Relatively infrequent use of words including "f--k" (said once), "s--t," "bulls--t," "damn," "hell," "oh my God," etc.
Consumerism: Brand/labels seen or mentioned include Alitalia, Canon, and Ambien.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Lots of social drinking, from beer to wine to hard liquor. One character pops pills.