Irrational Man

IRRATIONAL MAN (Woody Allen). 96 minutes. Opens Friday (July 24). See listings. Rating: NNPlainly, Woody Allen couldnt make up his.

IRRATIONAL MAN (Woody Allen). 96 minutes. Opens Friday (July 24). See listings. Rating: NN

Plainly, Woody Allen couldnt make up his mind about Irrational Man. Is it a comedy? A thriller? A sharp philosophical treatise? Turns out its none of the above which is the problem.

Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), just hired as a philosophy prof at a Connecticut college, can find no joy in life, even when he connects with his brilliant student Jill (Emma Stone). After overhearing a random conversation, hes inspired to commit a crime, which gives him renewed energy and the will to bed his lovestruck student.

These days that would get him booted from the faculty and change the plot line, but Allen doesnt know what to do with the one hes got. Since its hard to care whether whiney, booze-loving Abe gets caught, the suspense factor is nil.

As for the philosophy, sadly, Allen yearns for intellectual cred but winds up instead with dull dialogue quoting ideas from Heidegger, Kant and Sartre. Nothing funny there. Actually, the film doesnt have one laugh-out-loud moment.

Stone almost saves the thing, especially toward the end when her arguments with Abe about ethics intensify. A paunchy Phoenix is suitably shambolic, and Parker Posey as a sex-starved science lecturer comes closest to giving the film an ironic edge worthy of the director of Crimes And Misdemeanors.

Otherwise, this is just sloppy.

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