Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Abe Vigoda
One morning, nebbish Nathan Mushnik (Allen) wakes up to discover he’s become a vampire. High on his list of necks to nosh is upstairs neighbor and uber-WAP Liza Maupin (Paltrow). Just two problems stand in the way — her utter disdain for this Jewish nobody, and Nathan’s Orthodox beliefs that preclude eating meat with blood in it, even for sexual purposes. It’s in Leviticus somewhere. Perplexed and in need of guidance, Nate turns to Rabbi Vogelbaum (Vigoda), who advises him to convert her. How this will help is unclear, but we are all glad to see Allen return to the romantic comedy of his “funny” years, and depart the agonizing psychoanalysis of his youth, religion, and city.
This cast makes magic, playing off one another perfectly. Watch Vigoda and Allen try to out-Yiddish one another — Vigoda wins, no small feat for an Italian Goy. The steady stream of one liners and sight gags reminds you of Sleeper or Bananas . As Henny Youngman proved, you don’t have to tell good jokes if you tell lots of jokes. Bleeders makes up for in quantity what it lacks in quality.
The path of Woody’s career in some ways parallels the rise and fall of NYC in the late 20th century. As he started out, NYC was a sexy, cosmopolitan town with a rotting heart. As the crime rose and the wealthy fled to Scarsdale and LA, Allen’s humor sublimated to an internal examination of society and himself. Not fun, either for New Yorkers or movie-goers. In this fin-de-siècle era, NY has cleaned up, shipped the muggers to Jersey, returning Allen to lighter, more comedic fare. Come to town, see a show, and don’t mind the $300 hotel bill. It’s worth it to see the new renaissance.