She's Funny That Way, film review: Screwball comedy has all the ingredients of a sex farce

(12A) Peter Bogdanovich, 92 mins. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Imogen Poots, Owen Wilson

There's a lot of star wattage in Peter Bogdanovich's new screwball comedy but none of it shines very brightly. Owen Wilson plays Arnold Albertson, a director just arrived on Broadway to stage a play. This will star boorish matinee idol Seth Gilbert (Rhys Ifans) and Albert's wife, Delta (Kathryn Hahn). Albert has a secret. He likes to hire high-class call girls, whom he charms with money and wisecracks stolen from Ernst Lubitsch films.

He would seem sleazy played by any other actor, but Wilson is so amiable that this serial philanderer still comes across as a boy next door type. Imogen Poots is Izzy/Glo, the working-class New York girl who ends up in his hotel bedroom and then, by one of the many coincidences in the film, auditions for the play and wins a leading part. The British actress has gangly charm and an appealing Brooklyn accent but isn't quite right for a role that would need an Audrey Hepburn or Jennifer Jones to do it justice.

There are all the ingredients you might find in an overcooked sex farce – private detectives, long lost fathers, prostitutes hiding in bathrooms and continual chance meetings that cause havoc. Bogdanovich elicits a fair amount of laughs along the way as well as some genuinely funny performances, notably from Jennifer Aniston as a foul-mouthed therapist with a compulsion to share intimate details about her clients. The film, though, seems fatally undercharged by comparison with the screwball classics it is trying so hard to emulate.

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