Summer Movie Savior: Midnight In Paris

Midnight In Paris - A film by Woody Allen

Owen Wilson and the First Lady of France (?) in Midnight In Paris

I need a good movie in the summer more than any other time of year—because I can’t stand being hot.

There’s a part of me that wishes I was into warm weather – that I was the guy who invites people over for barbecues, who owns one of those moveable firepits, who doesn’t mind being seen in flip flops. The reality, however, is that there is nothing I love more on a humid July day than to disappear into an environment that is decidedly un-summer: the dark overly-air-conditioned belly of a movie theater. My favorites include the Roosevelt Cinema in Hyde Park (with its mildewy basement smell), Upstate Films in Rhinebeck (with its hoity toity summer crowd), and The Moviehouse in Millerton with it’s cafe and art gallery and Meryl Streep sitting a couple rows back. These theaters wouldn’t be anything, however, without a good summer movie – something that seems to be exceedingly hard to find these days. And something I would have never (never ever) have connected with Woody Allen.

If you’re like me, you probably find the thought of a Woody Allen movie as appealing as walking around Williams-Sanoma looking for a spatula. But a couple weeks ago I was confronted with a friend in dire need of cheering up, and she’d been wanting to see Midnight In Paris, so I just sorta rolled with it. Like you, I prepared myself for the worst. What I got was the exact opposite.

Midnight In Paris - A film by Woody Allen

Think back to when you liked Owen Wilson. Before he started splitting his time between weird rom-com roles and trying to kill himself. The Wedding Crasher days. The Royal Tenenbaums. His performance in Midnight makes up for all of the bad choices he’s made in the past decade. And you know what, while we’re in a forgiving mood, let’s usher Adrien Brody to the front of the line for a bit part that makes up for… well, everything up til now.

Midnight In Paris - A film by Woody Allen

The concept of Midnight in Paris is simple: Wilson’s character is a successful screenwriter from LA who’s about to be married to an equally upwardly-mobile young woman played by Rachel McAdams. While they’re on a trip to Paris, Wilson wanders off through the city at night in search of writerly inspiration. At midnight, the clock tower strikes twelve and a vintage car pulls up filled with party-going Parisians (from what appears to be another time – and in fact they are). With no real explanation, Wilson finds himself in his era of choice, The Roaring 20s, coming face-to-face with the luminaries of that time – Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein – a seemingly endless who’s-who list played straight by an oddly perfect cast.

Midnight In Paris gives meaning to our relationship with nostalgia, to imagining ourselves in another time, and why we can’t help but do that. It’s simple and fun and meaningful without trying too hard. The trailer doesn’t really do it justice. If anything, just do what I did. Make a leap of faith. You’ll be surprised.