** GM
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Famke Janssen, Winona Ryder, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joe Mantegna, Judy Davis, Charlize Theron


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Kenneth Branagh doing his best Woody Allen impression throughout the entire movie. Ask yourself if you really want to see that.

Aside from this glaring problem (and the fact that the other lead, Judy Davis, is just as stammeringly neurotic as Branagh and, therefore, equally annoying), "Celebrity" is a funny and interesting movie. It's an examination/skewering of the entire concept of 'celebrity' and an analysis of why we find certain types of people worthy of celebration and the general lack of worth that goes along with that. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a spoiled rotten "bad boy" actor type - I assume this is what everyone expects him to be these days - and he helps to deftly show the utter humiliation and ludicrous pandering involved with being an unknown writer trying to sell a screenplay and get an actor attached to it. It's informative and funny.

Joe Mantegna and Famke Janssen play the serious relationships that Davis and Branagh respectively become involved in - although it is completely inexplicable why Mantegna continues to be interested in Davis at all, with her psychotic nervousness making her a generally unlikable character. At least Famke has the excuse of really liking the book that Branagh is trying to write, thus looking past the constant stammering that drives me bananas.

Woody also seems to be trying to tell us that there is a life after divorce, but as Branagh is somehow able to score with models and actresses, Famke Janssen and Winona Ryder, Davis apparently can do nothing until the perfect man suddenly falls into her lap. To her credit, she's as confused about Mantegna's continual pursuit of her as I was, but it's never quite explained at all and it doesn't make a lot of sense. Apparently, for women, the only life after divorce involves sheer dumb luck - the kind of luck that never happens to anyone in real life.

Although there are some really good interactions between characters and some thoughtful statements about the nature of celebrity, the film has a hard time overcoming the two lead characters being so blasted grating. At least Allen does us the favor of casting someone else in the role typically reserved for him - someone we can almost BELIEVE could bed Famke Janssen, Winona Ryder and Charlize Theron. The problem is that Branagh, although dashing in films like "Hamlet" and "Henry V," still has that annoying Woody Allen stammer going that renders anything dashing about him completely invisible.

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