Though Woody Allen has had plenty of late-career stumbles, there are still times when he astonishes you with a movie such as Blue Jasmine. This is not one of those times.
Irrational Man is a clumsy, obvious, and desperately unfunny black comedy, one that recycles stale Allen ideas (Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point) and contains enough on-the-nose dialogue to warrant both rewrites and rhinoplasty.
All of the tedious overwriting is “help” Allen’s fine cast surely does not need. One glance at the dissolute face of Joaquin Phoenix in his rumpled tweeds tells you most of what you need to know about him — he’s a celebrated philosophy professor, Abe, who’s scaled the heights of academia and is now backsliding, the consequence of personal missteps and general depression.
Irrational Man finds him taking a position at a second-tier university, where he’s a local sensation, and attracts the amorous attention of a starstruck colleague (a funny Parker Posey, who also needs no help from Allen’s labored exposition).