May 1st, 2014

FUNNY FACE (1957) **

Fred Astaire is a photographer for a ritzy New York fashion magazine. While doing a photo shoot in a bookstore in Greenwich Village, he spots a mousy bookworm (Audrey Hepburn) and decides to make her the next big fashion model. At first she balks at the idea, but after Fred whisks her off to Paris, she quickly changes her tune. Predictably, the two wind up falling in love (but not before a lot of rigmarole).

Funny Face was directed by Stanley Donen, the man who helmed the immortal Saturn 3. This Donen guy must enjoy seeing hot babes parading around with dudes twice their age. I mean seeing Farrah Fawcett being wooed by Kirk Douglas in Saturn 3 was bad enough, but it’s a bit creepy seeing Astaire chasing after Hepburn in this.

Not to mention the fact that the plot is really contrived. All of the assorted nonsense that brings the couple apart and draws them back together isn’t very believable. And I don’t think there’s a single moment when you actually buy them as a genuine couple either. It also doesn’t help that Astaire and Hepburn don’t have much chemistry together.

There are one or two little moments that make it almost tolerable though. I liked the opening number set in the fashion magazine that plays out sort of like a female-centric version of Mad Men. And the scenes inside of the jazzy Parisian beatnik club are somewhat amusing. But the whole thing is lacking spark. Heck, even Astaire’s dance numbers are decidedly ho-hum.