by Jeff Niesel
Despite its flimsy premise, Fading Gigolo, the new romantic comedy written and directed by veteran actor John Turturro, gets off to a pretty good start. Fioravante (Tuturro) and his old friend Murray (Woody Allen) are having a casual chat when Murray tells Fioravante that his dermatologist Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone) is looking to hire a gigolo for a threesome with her gal pal Selima (Sofia Vergara). Murray knows there’s the potential for good money in the transaction so he talks Fioravante into the gig.
It's just too bad the opening scene with Turturro and Allen is the strongest one in the film that quickly devolves into rather predictable comedy centering on the novelty of the situation. The film opens today at the Cedar Lee Theater, the Capitol Theatre and Cinemark Valley View.
Much like an episode of Hung, the HBO comedy about a male gigolo, Fading Gigolo isn’t so much about the sex. Turturro eventually does end up in bed with Dr. Parker and Selima, but along the way he falls for a Hasidic widow (Vanessa Paradis), invoking the wrath of her secret admirer (Liev Schreiber). And we all know that the whole point of being a gigolo is that love should never be a factor.
The exchanges between Murray and Fioravante are endlessly entertaining, in part because Allen and Turturro have such a great sense of comic timing. And the idea that the self-deprecating Allen could manage to act as a pimp is funny in and of itself. But the other characters in the film never become more than caricatures and the subplot concerning the Hasidic widow doesn’t go anywhere and even borders on the ridiculous as her Hasidic handlers haul Murray in for a sit-down when they realize he’s been wreaking havoc in their hood.