Release Date: December 1, 2017 (limited)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for thematic content including some sexuality, language and smoking)
“Wonder Wheel” has me wondering, just what happened to writer/director Woody Allen?
The auteur here brings us a milieu of monotony featuring an assortment of unlikable characters, a tired plotline, and dialogue more reminiscent of being the work of a novice screenwriter than that of the seasoned veteran.
Set in 1950s Coney Island, “Wonder Wheel” (so named for the carnival attraction adjacent to the residence of the principal characters) tells the story of Ginny (Kate Winslet), a former actress now serving customers in a clam house, who is unhappy with her marriage to Humpty (Jim Belushi), the carousel operator at the amusement park. Her migraine-inducing existence improves once she meets Mickey (Justin Timberlake), a lifeguard who offers hope for a new life during a brief summer affair. Enter Carolina (Juno Temple), Humpty’s daughter, who seeks refuge with her estranged father as members of the mob are on her trail seeking payback.
As preposterous as the plot is, it pales in comparison to the dialogue and the performers who must deliver their lines with a straight face. Whether it is being hampered by the script, or by poor direction, I’ve seen better acting in the most amateur of community theatre, and that’s an insult to the community theatre community.
Temple is the only bright spot in an otherwise dim film offering. No doubt the usually talented cast jumped at the opportunity to work with the legendary Woody Allen. After seeing the completed work, I suspect they realize this “Wonder Wheel” is simply spinning out of control.