What does Peter Bogdanovich call the thing he loves? Film. He was smart enough to interview most of the great directors, ask the important questions then compile such important material into well-received books.
Yet he’s still such an underrated director, the same Peter Bogdanovich who directed a long list of brilliant films: “The Last Picture Show”, “Paper Moon”,“They All Laughed”, “What’s Up, Doc?,” “Mask,” “Texasville”, “At Long last Long”, “Daisy Miller”, “Nickelodeon” and “The Thing Called Love”.
His latest film (his first since 2001), “She’s Funny That Way,” is a screwball comedy that pays tribute to the bedroom farces of Ernst Lubitsch; his “Cluny Brown” is wonderfully quoted in the film. (Thr film was originally titled “Squirrels to the Nuts”, a reference to Lubitsch’s gem.)
When established theater director Arnold Albertson (played by Owen Wilson) casts call-girl-turned-actress Isabella “Izzy” Patterson (Imogen Poots) in a new play to star alongside his wife Delta (Kathryn Hahn) and her ex-lover Seth Gilbert (Rhys Ifans), a zany love triangle forms with hilarious twists. Jennifer Aniston plays Izzy’s therapist Jane, who is consumed with her own failing relationship with Arnold’s playwright Joshua Fleet (Will Forte), who is also developing a crush on Izzy.
The Broadway setting and escalating hilarity harks back to the farce “Noises Off”, as well as the romantic romps Bogdanovich explored in “They All Laughed”, making a screwball comedy of the first rate. “She’s Funny That Way” arrives on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital HD) and Digital HD on November 3 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Both editions come with bonus features.
An interesting side note: Bogdanovich wrote the film’s screenplay 15 years but never made it until now. Why? “I wrote it for John Ritter, and when he died suddenly I put it on the back burner for a long time because I just couldn’t imagine anyone else pulling it off. Eventually I became quite friendly with Owen Wilson, and it occurred to me that he could be very good in this part if I changed the physicality a little bit. As an example, in the scene where Imogen’s character shows up at the audition and surprises the main character, in the John Ritter version John stood up suddenly and knocked over the table and everything went flying. I asked Owen what he would do in the same situation and he immediately said “I’d say she’s wrong for the part,” which was equally funny. So throughout the script when there were physical gags, which were John’s strong suit, we changed them to verbal jokes, which are what Owen does well.”