Anything Else; Woody Allen Putting Life In Perspective Essay
Most everyone knows of the multi talented and sensational screen writer and actor Woody Allen. Woody Allen is a multi faceted individual. There is Woody Allen the screen writing genius, the actor, the unforgettable comical wizard, and then there’s Wood Allen the philosopher. Usually such titles as: Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Mighty Aphrodite and Sleeper come to mind when we think of Woody Allen. One film I would like to give special attention to, is a gem of a movie titled, Anything Else. Anything Else brings to the movies the philosopher side of Woody Allen.
Anything Else focuses on relationships and how sometimes one person can be preyed on by everyone in their life. Jerry Faulk,( Played by Jason Biggs) was such a person, a young and talented writer for intellectual comedians, he had every reason to excel, but he had one handicap and that was the inability to stand alone. He preferred getting the short end of the stick, to standing up for himself, and having what was rightfully his. However, Jerry is fortunate enough to meet up with David Dobel, (Played by Woody Allen) who helps Jerry see how he is being taken advantage of, and how he can set himself free. Dobel even sets up a job for him in California. David Dobel is a school teacher, who also writes for intellectual comedians, and is also a human dictionary, with an astounding vocabulary. Most of all, Dobel is a man with a great deal of life experience, and a believer in self sufficiency. He knows what it’s like to suffer, since he comes from a family that had been victimized in the holocaust.
Dobel is like a father to Jerry, he tries to warn him about the people in his life. These unscrupulous people in Jerry’s life are as follows: Jerry’s live in girlfriend, Amanda, (Played by Christina Ricci) who because of her sex appeal, and ability to be irresistible to the opposite sex, manages to keep Jerry on a short leash. Imposing that Jerry live with her mother, and sacrifice his work space, in order to accommodate her. She abuses with him financially, and even cheats on him, while not showing Jerry the least bit of respect. She is so demanding, that she even gets mad at him for not wanting to join her, her mother and her mother’s boy friend in a round of cocaine. Then there Jerry’s manager, Harvey, (Played by Danny Devitto) who having a sliding scale, that tends to slide in his favor, often cheating Jerry of his rightful earnings. He often inflicts guilt on Jerry by reminding him that when Jerry started he was the only one there for him. His management style makes it hard for Jerry to want to keep up the partnership. Jerry, out of guilt finds himself trapped in his partnership with Harvey. Last but not least, the character that seems to have the most control of Jerry’s life, is his silent psychiatrist, Dr. Reed (Played by David Conrad) never advices Jerry, except to take away the rifle Jerry had acquired, and doesn’t allow Jerry the freedom to travel because he hasn’t finished with his therapy yet.
Dobel tells Jerry that throughout history people have always been scared, and unsure and there have always existed priests and shamans who like his psychiatrists, for a price would prey on the weak. He tells Jerry that “Life is what it is”. There you have it, the meaning of life in a nutshell. Dobel not only advices Jerry, but he also helps Jerry to free himself from all these unscrupulous individuals, who will continue to prey on Jerry, if he doesn’t take a stand once and for all. Dobel, who’s biggest fault is being highly suspicious to the point of being mildly paranoid, often tells Jerry his greatest pearl of wisdom, that is to never trust a naked bus driver.
Dobel succeeds in freeing Jerry from his farrago of baby sitters, as Dobel would call them. Dobel gives Jerry advice on how to go about leaving each and everyone of these destructive individuals. Jerry needs Dobel’s help when he has to give his manager, Harvey the news that he is no longer partnering with him. Dobel is there with Jerry and he even breaks the contract, by tearing it up, to make sure that Jerry doesn’t continue his destructive partnership with Harvey . Dobel then does everything he can to persuade Jerry to leave his sexually handicapped sex kitten, Amanda. Jerry although he is very attached to Amanda, finally sets himself free. That same afternoon, he also leaves his silent therapist after wasting time, and money on years of useless psychotherapy.
Even though Anything Else has not received the same recognition as Annie Hall or Hannah and Her Sisters, it is an unsung Woody Allen masterpiece on life, yet to be discovered.