Naked in New York (1993) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Here's your cultural aptitude quiz for the day.

"Life is Beautiful" is to Robin Williams

as "Naked in New York" is to .....?

The answer is Woody Allen. Just as "Life is Beautiful" is a Robin Williams movie that doesn't actually star or have anything to do with Robin Williams, "Naked in New York" is a Woody Allen movie that actually has nothing at all to do with Woody Allen.

Check out this summary:

A neurotic, sexually clumsy, easily embarrassed, red-headed, Jewish New York writer (Eric Stoltz) has some raw writing talent, but not the social skills or appearance to market himself. He also tries to work out a relationship with a cute protestant girl whose lecherous boss, competing for her favors, is as suave and unbearably handsome as James Bond. (It is, in fact, Timothy Dalton).


Mary-Louise Parker is topless in a sex scene, and in a very distant scene on the beach.

Eric Stolz is naked from the rear in an early scene, and then does full frontal nudity in a final dream sequence.

The narrator tells the story in flashback while looking directly at the camera and talking to the audience. Throughout the movie, he has conversations with imaginary characters in his past or elsewhere.

Woody Allen once quipped that he failed a college philosophy exam when he looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to him. I presume that boy was the author of this script, who returned the favor by looking into Woody's soul to write this film.

Martin Scorsese produced this film, which is fundamentally a pleasant and sometimes insightful story about likeable people. The secondary cast is outstanding. Kathleen Turner, Roscoe Lee Jones, Tony Curtis, Ralph Macchio, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jill Clayburgh fill out the dramatis personae, and various New York celebrities (Arthur Penn, William Styron, e.g) make cameo appearances to provide authentic Big Apple flavor.

The female lead is Mary-Louise Parker, who is fascinating in a certain way. She's not a beautiful woman, and sometimes photographs quite poorly, and yet there is something singular about her - something closed, and distrustful, and vulnerable, that makes her seem to be a person who has been hurt badly before, and is afraid of deep feelings, even afraid to look someone squarely in the eye. That quality renders her very human and sexy in a unique way.

DVD info from Amazon

  • bare-bones DVD: no widescreen. no features

As Woody Allen movies go, Naked in New York is a pretty good one, but certainly not a great one, and I was having reservations about typing "pretty good" in the previous sentence because, although I liked most of the film, I was frustrated when it limped off into an indecisive ending.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus: just less than three stars. James Berardinelli 2.5/4, Roger Ebert 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed a million dollars in the USA.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. Pretty decent film in the Woody Allen tradition of neurotic New York artists.

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