Wonder Wheel revolves around nerdy lifeguard Mickey (Justin Timberlake), who finds himself in the classic Woody Allen dilemma of having to choose between two attractive women who are in love with him.
There's Ginny (Kate Winslet), a waitress and failed actress unhappily married to carousel operator Humpty (Jim Belushi). Or there's Carolina (Juno Temple), Humpty's estranged daughter who seeks out her father because she's on the run from gangsters. Who do you suppose Mickey prefers, Ginny, the woman with whom he seems to share a genuine connection, or the younger woman, Carolina? I won't spoil the surprise.
There are some interesting visuals in Wonder Wheel. The sets, costumes and photography are well done, and give the amusement park a shimmering, nostalgic quality. Clearly, this stylized version of 1950s Coney Island means something to 82-year-old Allen; for the rest of us it feels dusty and irrelevant—about as much fun as a trip to the antique store with your mom as a kid.
Winslet does everything she can with consistently flat dialogue, and Timberlake and Temple are charismatic. On the other hand, Jim Belushi gives one of the worst acting performances I've ever seen in a movie theater. It's as if Allen cast your schlubby uncle, handed him the script and told him not to sweat it. Belushi steals every scene in which he appears, in a bad way.
If his latest work is any indication, Woody Allen doesn't have much left to say. Wonder Wheel is a doddering rehash of ideas from his earlier works.
CRITIC'S RATING: 1/4 stars.
Wonder Wheel is rated R and now playing at Clackamas and Living Room.