Filed by Variety‘s Guy Lodge during the 2014 Venice Film Festival: “Screwball comedy was already a retro affair when Peter Bogdanovich mastered it in 1972 with What’s Up, Doc? Forty-two years later, that ageless throwback is the standard to which the director aspires in She’s Funny That Way, an enthusiastic but low-fizz romantic farce that gets by principally on the charms of a cast speckled with gifted funnymen (and, more particularly, funnywomen).
“At once invoking genre forebears like Ernst Lubitsch and contemporaries like Woody Allen, this busy tale of a Brooklyn callgirl wreaking havoc among the romantically frustrated cast and crew of a dud Broadway play accumulates the necessary narrative chaos without ever building a full head of comic steam. The diverting result will find a modest audience principally among those old enough to recall Bogdanovich’s glory days.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney, ibid: “Such a tangle of characters and connections requires both dexterity and a supremely light touch, and particularly in the sluggish opening, those assets are missing,” “Chopping back and forth between the main story and Isabella’s interview only exacerbates the frustrating failure to build any consistent comic rhythm. The film does pick up, gaining momentum as the various deceptions are exposed. And there are a handful of very amusing scenes, notably one in which an Eastern European escort with minimal English skills (Lucy Punch) gets caught in the confusion.
“But this is a long, dispiriting distance from the sustained sparks and impeccably timed beats of, say, What’s Up, Doc? Removing expectations based on Bogdanovich’s own cherished career highs will probably allow many audiences to have an okay time here. But She’s Funny That Way just isn’t quite funny or inspired enough.”