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Woody Allen
Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody
Woody Allen

A romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle. Personal and professional complications ensue.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$69,480 on 111 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 3.0
French DTS-HD MA 3.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 12/20/2011

• “Midnight in Cannes” Featurette
• Cast & Crew Photo Galleries
• Trailer & Previews


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Midnight in Paris [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 28, 2022)

In standard box office terms, 2011’s Midnight in Paris failed to stir up much monetary excitement. It took in $56 million in the US, which placed it 57th on the year-end chart.

However, when compared to other Woody Allen films of the 21st century, Paris looked like an enormous smash. His two prior movies – 2010’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and 2009’s Whatever Works - made barely 1/8th the gross of Paris combined.

Even Allen flicks viewed as successes – like 2008’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona and 2005’s Match Point - took in much less than half of this one’s earnings.

Really, I think you’d have to go back to the 1980s to find any other Allen films that compare with this one’s relative success. In terms of actual dollars, Paris appears to be Allen’s highest-grossing film, though if you adjust for inflation, it clearly would lose to earlier efforts like Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters.

Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) makes a great living as a Hollywood screenwriter, but this doesn’t fulfill his artistic ambitions. He wishes that he and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) could move to Paris and reside there, but she refuses to leave the US.

Still, Gil remains attached to the notion, and a trip they take to France along with her parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy) just feeds his fantasy.

Matters become even more enticing when Gil wanders the streets of Paris in a semi-inebriated state. A car from the 1920s appears and the inhabitants invite him to come along with them and drink champagne.

Before too long, Gil winds up at a party where he meets a woman named Zelda (Allison Pill) – a woman with a husband named Scott (Tom Hiddleston). At first, Gil thinks this is just a gag, but he soon realizes that the car has transported him back to the 1920s.

Gil also meets Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo) and other artistic legends. Gil enjoys the greatest night of his life and tries to come back the next night with Inez.

This doesn’t work out with Inez in tow, and she heads home. Gil eventually realizes that he can’t go back in time until midnight, so when the clock strikes 12, he hops into the car and goes back to the 1920s. This sets him on a journey of love and discovery, as he works on a novel and contemplates his relationship with Inez.

Most Allen films feature a character with a clear resemblance to the writer/director. Woody himself used to play the “Woody role” over the years, he tended to use a string of replacements.

Wilson gets that assignment here, though Gil seems less like “Movie Woody” than most of the others, and that’s a good thing. Most of the actors who take on the “Woody role” tend to play up the stammering and mannerisms. Wilson plays down those traits, which is something of a surprise since he tends toward mannerisms like that in many of his other performances.

But it’s a good decision, as the lack of tics and stammering ensure that Gil becomes one of the more likable Woody doppelgangers we’ve seen. Wilson comes across as less pretentious and smug than his predecessors, and he helps ground the fantasy tale. Gil could’ve been as insufferable as most Woody clones, but he ends up a reasonably genuine and charming.

It’s too bad the movie doesn’t bother to flesh out the other roles very well. In particular, Inez suffers, as she’s little more than a cartoon shrew, so other than her looks, we can’t ever figure out why Gil would be interested in her.

Her parents are worse, and even the usually delightful Michael Sheen can’t bring any spark to the movie’s most pretentious part, Inez’s know-it-all friend Paul.

Probably the film’s biggest flaw comes from its narrative, or lack thereof. Much of the time Allen appears to think he simply needs to allow Gil to meet various artistic legends and we’ll be entertained.

Unfortunately, the thrill of discovery wears off quickly, and the movie soon feels like a long parade of character cameos; we think less about the actual story and more about who the flick will trot out next.

Because of this, Paris really is more of a concept than a story. It essentially glides by on its premise and rarely bothers with much else. Yeah, Allen throws in a message by the end, but it seems gratuitous, as the movie cares most about its cameo-oriented fantasy.

Even with these flaws, Paris manages a breezy charm that makes it watchable. Maybe I just don’t expect much from Allen these days, but at least Paris was a step up over recent duds like Whatever Works and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Though Paris is a far cry from classic Allen, it’s a moderately enjoyable romp.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C/ Bonus D+

Midnight in Paris appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a good presentation.

Sharpness looked positive. A few wide shots came across as slightly soft, but the image usually offered strong delineation.

I noticed no issues with shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes were absent. The image lacked print defects.

In terms of palette, Paris opted for warm tones. The modern-day scenes went for a strong golden feel with some teal, while the 1920s shots added more of an orange/red tint. These colors seemed appropriate within the stylistic choices.

Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows showed nice clarity. Overall, this turned into a more than satisfactory image.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 3.0 soundtrack, it proved to be wholly unambitious. Music showed decent stereo spread, while effects delivered minor ambience.

Given that Woody Allen still went with mono mixes until a few years ago, even three channels of audio offers a step up, but the soundscape still didn’t do a whole lot.

Audio quality was fine, at least. Speech was the most important factor and worked fine, as the lines were consistently natural and concise.

Music showed reasonable pep and fullness, while effects appeared acceptably accurate. Nothing here impressed, so this remained a “C” soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless audio sounded a bit warmer, but given the limited nature of the mix, it didn’t show a major change.

At least visuals boasted a serious step up in quality, as the Blu-ray looked better defined and more vivid. The DVD worked fine for its format but it couldn’t compete with this solid Blu-ray.

Woody Allen films always skimp on extras, and this one’s no different. We find a featurette entitled Midnight in Cannes. It goes for four minutes, 57 seconds and shows a press conference from the film festival.

The panel includes writer/director Woody Allen, and actors Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, and Adrien Brody. We get notes about the project’s origins and story plus cast and performances.

The clip moves along at a nice pace and has a few interesting notes, but it’s not particularly meaty.

The disc opens with an ad for Carnage. We also get the film’s trailer plus Cast and Crew Photo Galleries, a collection of 95 shots. It’s a decent compilation.

Though it does not compare with Woody Allen’s stronger work, Midnight in Paris at least gives us a minor comeback after a string of duds. Owen Wilson helps sell the silly story and it turns into a moderately enjoyable affair. The Blu-ray comes with acceptably good picture, mediocre audio and skimpy supplements. This is a spotty but generally likable film.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

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