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Running Time:
1 hr. 25 min.

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for some vioelnce, a drug reference, suggestive material and smoking

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Woody Allen's latest period comedy meanders a bit ... but because it's from this veteran comedian and filmmaker, it also has some bittersweet themes, beautiful images and a bunch of smart jokes.

Additional Info:
Steve Carell ... Phil Stern
Sheryl Lee ... Karen Stern
Todd Weeks ... Oscar
Paul Schackman ... Al
Jodi Carlisle ... Maid
Richard Portnow ... Walt
Jeannie Berlin ... Rose Dorfman
Ken Stott ... Marty Dorfman
Jesse Eisenberg ... Bobby
Sari Lennick ... Evelyn
Stephen Kunken ... Leonard
Laurel Griggs ... Evelyn's Daughter Corey Stoll ... Ben Dorfman

Café Society
Jesse Eisenberg plays Bobby, a Jewish New Yorker who tires of his father's business and decides to try his hand at Los Angeles. He has an uncle, Phil Stern (Steve Carell), who is a powerful agent in Hollywood, and after several failed attempts at a meeting, he manages to land a kind of job as a glorified assistant. Uncle Phil assigns his own secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) to look after him, and Bobby falls madly in love with her. Vonnie already has something going on, but finds herself intrigued by Bobby's nervous, kindhearted charms. It all leads to a painful love triangle that spans more time and more locations. Bobby returns to New York, where he marries another beauty (Blake Lively) -- also called Veronica -- and becomes a kind of greeter in a nightclub run by his gangster brother (Corey Stoll). There the past comes back to bite him.

A big part of the movie is the concept of name-dropping, of getting close to glamour and glory, without actually attaining it. Vonnie takes Bobby on a sight-seeing tour of Hollywood, showing him the fabulous mansions of the rich and famous, with both of them asserting that they don't really want that for themselves. Uncle Phil is constantly talking about his clients; just about every 1930s star and director you can think of is mentioned at some point. The film seems to teeter between the allure of fantasy and the acceptance of reality, never quite coming to grips with either thing. And, of course, fantasy can extend to romance, as well as hobnobbing with stars at fabulous palaces. Bobby's two women are both beautiful, but he's never quite satisfied with one or the other, or, vice-versa: the women are never quite satisfied either.

Cafe Society isn't particularly inspired when it comes to some of the details. The world of Hollywood is effectively represented, but while Corey Stoll does his best, the world of New York gangsters feels unreal. Some of the jokes and the religious discussions feel pilfered from earlier films, not so much an expansion of certain ideas, but merely a repeating of them. And, frankly, for a comedy, this is probably one of Woody Allen's least funny efforts. But, in the end, there's still enough here to make Cafe Society worth seeing. Mainly, there's the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart -- this is their third time together as an onscreen couple, and they have a genuine sweetness, a kind of awkward, open-hearted feeling that is truly touching. It seems to prove that, whatever else Woody Allen may or may not be wrestling with in his life, he's likely still a romantic, and that's probably enough.

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