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A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy Reviews

Woody Allen is among a very few people in the history of film who have provided audiences with really intelligent humor. But even Homer nods, and never has Allen more obviously fallen down on the job than in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY, a trifle that owes much to Ingmar Bergman in style and to Groucho Marx in content. The setting is a weekend houseparty at a farmhouse in upstate New York at the turn of the century. Andrew (Allen) and his wife, Adrian (Mary Steenburgen), are joined by Leopold (Jose Ferrer), a pretentious intellectual, and his promiscuous fiancee, Ariel (Mia Farrow); the party is completed by Maxwell (Tony Roberts), a womanizing doctor, and his current fling, Dulcy (Julie Hagerty). Andrew is preoccupied with trying to get his sexually unavailable wife to bed him; his frustration is exacerbated by the presence of Ariel, with whom he had a chaste relationship in the past, and who he now realizes to his chagrin was among the most sexually accessible of women. The stage is set for comedy, but the film doesn't have the wallop, the belly-laughs, or the wry comments usually found in Allen's work. While bons mots pepper the screenplay, Allen is prevented by the period setting from exercising his wit on contemporary sexual mores, which have always provided one of his richest comic sources. The pastoral setting is beautifully photographed by Gordon Willis.