Written & directed by Woody Allen

Starring Woody Allen, Alan Alda, Drew Barrymore, Lucas Haas, Goldie Hawn, Gaby Hoffman, Natasha Lyonne, Edward Norton, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Tim Roth & David Ogden Stiers.

"Everyone Says I Love You"

Opened: Friday, January 17, 1997 | Rated: PG

Yes, Woody Allen sings. One song. Actually about half a song -- a lamenting ballad -- before he wisely cuts himself off to change scenes.

In "Everyone Says I Love You," everyone sings -- Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Julia Roberts, Tim Roth -- everyone except Drew Barrymore. She was dubbed, and when one has heard the pedestrian voices of some of these other big names, one has to wonder how bad Barrymore's voice is to qualify for a voice-over.

"Everyone Says I Love You" isn't meant to be taken seriously as a musical and it isn't designed to be as thoughtful and layered as your usual Allen film. It's just great dumb fun, as a musical should be.

Woody Allen is fully aware of the absurdity of everyday folks breaking into song for no reason, so he figured if his characters are going to sing, it might as well be joyous and silly.

There is a song and dance number at Harry Winston's when nice guy fiance Edward Norton ("Primal Fear") buys his betrothed Barrymore a ring, and the top-tapping counter clerks can't even keep time. There is a song and dance number in a hospital, to the tune of "Makin' Whoopie," that includes wheelchair-bound acrobats. There is a chorus of Groucho Marx singers. And for Woody Allen trivia buffs, the best number in the film finds Woody and Goldie literally dancing on air in Paris -- at the same spot on the Seine where Woody ate a solitary birthday dinner in his first movie, 1965's "What's New Pussycat."

A lighter take on the usual Allen fare, the story is narrated by DJ (Natsha Lyonne), the boy-crazy eldest sister of a romantically-challenged Upper West Side family. Headed by Alda and Hawn, the clan includes Barrymore and Natalie Portman as daughters, and Lucas Haas as a son with a brain clot that has turned him into a Republican.

Allen plays Hawn's ex-husband and DJ's father, who seeks romantic advice from his daughter after meeting Julia Roberts on vacation in Venice.

Tim Roth is a released convict taken in by the magnanimously liberal Hawn until she discovers he has designs on Barrymore.

There are dozens of screwball twists to go with the dozen or so songs borrowed from here and there like musicals used to do. Allen even throws in a car chase as an ironical balance to his choice of genre.

On the Woody Allen index, "Everyone" ranks right about in the middle. It's sloppy -- the narrator, the main character, doesn't have a single close-up -- and Allen's usual snappy dialogue has been trimmed to make way for the music, but the movie makes no apologies. It's dumb, it's hilarious and it's exactly what Allen set out to do.

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