She's Funny That Way (film)
She’s Funny That Way is a 2014 American screwball comedy film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and co-written with Louise Stratten. The film stars Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Kathryn Hahn, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans, and Jennifer Aniston.
|She’s Funny That Way|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Bogdanovich|
|Music by||Edward Shearmur|
|Distributed by||Lionsgate Premiere|
|Box office||$6 million|
Broadway director Arnold Albertson alias "Derek" (Owen Wilson) hires call girl/escort Izzy Patterson (Imogen Poots), despite being married. Izzy dreams of being an actress, and "Derek" gives her $30,000 in exchange for her promise to stop being a call girl and pursue her true goal. She is not the first escort he has done this for. Lead actor Seth Gilbert (Rhys Ifans) sees Arnold kissing Izzy as she leaves his room.
Arnold's wife Delta Simmons (Kathryn Hahn) is the star of Arnold's new play A Grecian Evening. Izzy, keeping her promise to "Derek", shows up to audition for a part in the play as a call girl, not knowing that Derek/Arnold is the director.
The playwright Joshua Fleet (Will Forte) falls for Izzy, despite the fact that he’s dating Jane Claremont (Jennifer Aniston), who happens to be Izzy's therapist. Meanwhile, Judge Pendergast (Austin Pendleton) is another client of Izzy's, and also a patient of Jane Claremont. He is obsessed with Izzy, and hires private investigator Harold Fleet (George Morfogen), who happens to be Joshua Fleet's father, to follow her.
After the auditions, everyone ends up at the same Italian restaurant. Jane sees Joshua with Izzy and breaks up with him. Izzy sees Arnold and tries to escape out the bathroom window, but Delta catches her and brings her back into the restaurant. Izzy's cover is almost blown when Seth arrives with a co-worker of Izzy's.
While shopping, Delta finds out that Arnold has been hiring escorts when Margie, another call girl Arnold helped, thanks him profusely and indiscreetly. Joshua finds out about Izzy when Judge Pendergast confronts the two of them while they are on a date; she runs off before he can talk to her. Delta turns to Seth, who has long professed his love for her, for comfort, but finds another call girl hiding in his bathroom. She then storms into Arnold's room, only to find Izzy hiding in his bathroom (the two were just talking).
Everyone shows up to the first table read the next day, despite the tension. Delta makes a point of kissing Seth passionately while rehearsing. Izzy's father shows up looking for the men who paid his daughter for sex. Jane shows up to cause a scene, and identifies Arnold, Seth, and Joshua as Izzy's clients. During the commotion, Seth and Jane catch each others' eye.
The play opens to great acclaim. In an interview some time later, Izzy says that it closed in a week because wives from Long Island don't want to go to a play about call girls. Nevertheless, she caught the attention of a man from Hollywood, and has had success as a film actress since. She and Joshua broke up; she's now dating Quentin Tarantino. Seth and Jane are still dating. Judge Pendergast went to prison for solicitation; his wife is now dating Harold Fleet. Arnold now works for a charity giving large sums of money to women's causes.
- Owen Wilson as Arnold Albertson
- Imogen Poots as Isabella “Izzy” Patterson
- Kathryn Hahn as Delta Simmons
- Will Forte as Joshua Fleet
- Rhys Ifans as Seth Gilbert
- Jennifer Aniston as Jane Claremont
- Austin Pendleton as Judge Pendergast
- George Morfogen as Harold Fleet
- Cybill Shepherd as Nettie Patterson
- Richard Lewis as Al Patterson
- Sydney Lucas as Josie Albertson
- Debi Mazar as Vickie, a madam and former prostitute Arnold helped
- Illeana Douglas as Judy
- Jennifer Esposito as Margie, a former prostitute Arnold helped.
- Tovah Feldshuh as Mrs. Miriam Pendergast
- Joanna Lumley as Vivian Claremont
- John Robinson as Andre
- Ahna O’Reilly as Elizabeth, a former prostitute Arnold helped.
- Lucy Punch as a prostitute
- Poppy Delevingne as Macy’s woman greeter
- John Tormey as Hot dog vendor
She’s Funny That Way originated from a script written by director Peter Bogdanovich and ex-wife Louise Stratten around 1999 and 2000. Bogdanovich and Stratten, who were in financial distress at the time trying to buy back They All Laughed (1981), decided to write a comedy to uplift their spirits. While writing the script, Bogdanovich was inspired by an incident in Singapore during the time he was filming Saint Jack in 1978, where he was able to talk to many prostitutes after hiring them for his film. He would give them more money than their salary for them to leave the prostitution business. The script was originally titled Squirrels to the Nuts, but due to many people misinterpreting it as a children’s film, Bogdanovich changed it to She’s Funny That Way. (‘Squirrels to the Nuts’ is a line used frequently in the film, lifted from the 1946 film Cluny Brown.) Bogdanovich originally wrote the role of Arnold Albertson for John Ritter, but due to his death, he shelved the project. Bogdanovich later became friends with Owen Wilson, introduced to him by Wes Anderson, and he decided to change aspects of the character of Albertson: all of the physical gags intended for Ritter were changed to verbal jokes to suit Wilson. In 2010, protégés of Bogdanovich – Anderson and Noah Baumbach – offered their backing to get the film made, agreeing to serve as executive producers.
When the script was originally written, Bogdanovich envisioned John Ritter, Cybill Shepherd and co-writer Louise Stratten in the lead roles. In 2012, when the film was officially announced, Wilson, Brie Larson, and Olivia Wilde were signed on in lead roles. Larson was to play the call girl-turned-ingenue actress and Wilde would play the role of her therapist. Jason Schwartzman was also rumored to be in negotiations to play Wilde’s playwright boyfriend. Due to production delays, Wilson is the only actor to remain with the project. In February 2013, it was announced that Jennifer Aniston would replace Wilde in the role of the therapist, the same time Kathryn Hahn, Cybill Shepherd, and Eugene Levy were announced as cast members. Aniston was initially offered the part of Delta Simmons, Arnold Albertson’s wife, but she favored the role of the therapist, in which she was cast. Despite the commencement of filming on July 11, 2013, Imogen Poots and Richard Lewis were announced for roles of the ingenue and her father on July 22, with Will Forte taking the role of a playwright two days later. The same week, the casting of Joanna Lumley, Debi Mazar, Rhys Ifans, Lucy Punch, Ahna O’Reilly, and Jake Hoffman was set.
On August 29, 2014, She’s Funny That Way premiered at the Venice Film Festival. On September 12, it was bought by Clarius Entertainment at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. A screening at the Tokyo International Film Festival was scheduled for the end of October. In January 2015, the film was screened to the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
The film was originally scheduled for a May 1, 2015 release in theaters nationwide, but Clarius Entertainment pulled the film from the schedule. However, on June 2, 2015, Lionsgate Premiere acquired the film after Clarius Entertainment dropped the film for unknown reasons. The film was released on August 21, 2015 in a limited release and through video on demand.
The film received mixed reviews from American critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 40%, based on reviews from 89 critics, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The site’s critical consensus states: “She’s Funny That Way is an affectionate, talent-filled throwback to screwball comedies of old—which makes it even more frustrating that the laughs are disappointingly few and far between.” Metacritic gives the film a score of 45%, based on reviews from 25 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.
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