Just in case you’re not over Woody Allen yet, here is the first trailer for Wonder Wheel, his latest movie, which stars Kate Winslet but also Justin Timberlake. That’s right, Justin Timberlake. Justin Timberlake is in a Woody Allen movie, co-starring with Kate Winslet. (That’s like putting a Ferrari and a lawn mower in the same race.) Justin Timberlake: Serious Actor will always and forever remind us of the time he starred in a Woody Allen movie alongside Kate Winslet. No matter how many times I say it, “Justin Timberlake starring in a Woody Allen movie with Kate Winslet” never makes any sense.
Lainey emailed this to me, and really has the best summary: “This movie looks terrible. Zero interest.” Timberlake aside, it really doesn’t look that good. The trailer itself is sloppy and doesn’t quite land on which beats to emphasize as important, and that kind of thing is a warning sign that the movie itself might be a mess. Allen works at the relatively break-neck pace of one movie a year, and often it feels like with more time and focus, some of these movies could be better, but he’s blowing through them so fast they don’t have a chance to develop. Wonder Wheel is giving me that feeling.
The movie is set in 1950’s Coney Island, where Justin Timberlake is a lifeguard, and also, his voiceover sucks. He’s not a good narrator. It looks like a mob story, with Juno Temple—whom I adore, and am disappointed to see in a Woody Allen movie—popping up as Kate Winslet’s sister, on the run from the mob. Somehow, Pipsqueak McRinglets gets involved with Winslet’s character, but this is where the trailer goes sideways. Are they having an affair? Or is he just witness to her breakdown over the danger represented by her sister? Both?
Trailers don’t have to spell out the entire plot—shouldn’t, in fact, because it gives away too much—but if a trailer can’t establish a consistent tone, then there’s a problem. Wonder Wheel starts out looking like a mob/family drama, then maybe it’s a romantic drama, and it can be both but the way the tone see-saws isn’t filling me with confidence. Not that I had much to begin with. I am not invested in Woody Allen movies and I am even less invested in Woody Allen movies starring Justin Timberlake, who is not a good actor and shouldn’t be on screen longer than the length of an average SNL sketch. Also, every other movie this year has been titled “Wonder Something”, and I cannot keep them straight anymore.