Play It Again, Sam (1972)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Play It Again, Sam</strong> (1972)

(On DVD, November 2018) I’m not sure I even want to get romantic advice from Woody Allen, but if you can park that thought for 90 minutes and rationalize that the age difference between then-almost-fortysomething Allen and Diane Keaton was a mere ten years, then you may start to like what Play It Again, Sam has for you. Riffing from Casablanca so thoroughly that a viewing of the 1941 film is almost required before tackling this one, this romantic comedy takes us in the neuroses-fuelled inner life of one recently divorced San Francisco writer as he obsesses about his singlehood and Humphrey Bogart. While technically this isn’t a “Woody Allen movie” as he merely wrote and acted in it, but did not direct, Play It Again, Sam does count as one of Allen’s earlier, funnier movies, especially when “Bogart” pops up to provide advice to the protagonist, or when the protagonist’s equally-imaginary ex-wife starts interacting with him. It leads, quite predictably, to an airport tarmac climax, but it’s a good ending. In-between the premise and the conclusion, we have enough of Allen’s usual neurotic pattern to last us for a while, along with his interactions with Keaton. Play It Again, Sam may not be a deep or transcendent film, but it does work, and it will work best for those who do know and love Casablanca. (Who doesn’t?)

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