Review: Take The Money And Run (1969)

The second mockumentary, or faux documentary I’ve seen from Woody Allen, and the results are much the same!

Screenplay By: Woody Allen & Mickey Rose
Directed By: Woody Allen

The more I delve into Woody Allen’s earlier films the more I realize that I prefer his later work. This films from his pre-Annie Hall days are by no means bad films. But, there’s something about the way that he has been able to mix comedy in with drama in his later work that greatly appeals to me. Take The Money And Run is a great example of why I prefer his more serious work. It’s a funny film for sure, but the social commentary is very minimal. So minimal that the film relies on its comedy as its main thrust and Mr. Allen has more than a few misses as far as the jokes in Take The Money And Run are concerned. Take The Money And Run does have bits that work and I enjoy the general conceit of the film, but I didn’t laugh as much as I did because a lot of the jokes didn’t work for me.

The above being true, there’s still a lot to like about Take The Money And Run. I do love that Mr. Allen is willing to try new things with his comedic approach. The physicality of his humor and his speech syntax remain the same. However, he takes the nebbish character that will define his career and places it in a package that isn’t just a slapstick comedy. This isn’t the only time that Mr. Allen will employ the faux documentary approach(I hesitate to fully use mockumentary because Mr. Allen isn’t really mocking anything so much as he is presenting a fake documentary), years later he will try again with Zelig. The results are pretty much the same in both movies, but I still admire the effort. It would have been easier for Mr. Allen to present his tale of Virgil Starkwell as a straight narrative. The faux documentary trapping does allow for some humorous moments and it does help the picture to feel fresh and different from the majority of Mr. Allen’s oeuvre.

A major boon to Take The Money And Run is Janet Margolin as Louise. She isn’t in the film a whole lot, but she has the perfect blend of girl next door beauty and shyness to sell Louise as a real character. I fully bought the romantic aspect of Take The Money And Run because I could understand why Virgil would go to the lengths he does for Louise. Miss Margolin is very breezy as Louise, but when the camera focuses on her she shines and helps to counter balance the neuroses of Virgil. I realize that the bank robbing and illegal activities of Virgil are serving up commentary on the attempts of the lower class to make a go of it during the 1960s. At the same time I felt like Mr. Allen’s commentary was very slight and that the movie truly shined when it was focusing on its romantic aspects.

Take The Money And Run is lesser Woody Allen. I’m sure there are others who think a lot more of the film than I do. I’m not those people, all I can do is form my own reaction. I laughed during Take The Money And Run. I liked the romance of the film and I enjoyed the freshness of the faux documentary approach to a typical Woody Allen story. However, I didn’t laugh enough and found Take The Money And Run to be far too slight. It’s a decent movie, but Take The Money And Run is not top tier Woody Allen.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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