Deconstructing Harry [1997]

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Caroline Aaron, Kirstie Alley, Bob Balaban, Richard Benjamin, Eric Bogosian
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 96 minutes

Woody Allen roared back at his detractors with Deconstructing Harry, a bitterly funny treatise about the creative process. Known to mine his often tumultuous personal life for his movies, the embattled writer-director-star didn't bother to make his alter ego likable in this movie: Harry Block (Allen) pops pills, frequents prostitutes, and cheats on the women in his life, then writes about their foibles in thinly disguised fiction. No wonder they're all furious with him. As Harry journeys to his alma mater with a hooker, ill pal, and kidnapped son, a series of flashbacks unravel, juxtaposing Harry's relationships with their "slightly exaggerated" fictional counterparts. There are amusing cameos throughout, including a humorous turn by Demi Moore as a fictitious ex-wife who "became Jewish with a vengeance," and Billy Crystal as the devil who found Hollywood too nasty for his liking. The humor is dark and caustic, but well worth it; Deconstructing Harry is a near-brilliant mediation on the sometimes queasy relationship between art, creator, and critic. --Diane Garrett

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