This new film from writer-director-actor John Turturro offers at its heart a gentle if predictable light comedy, which is unfortunately wrapped in a very bad concept. Turturro plays Fioravante, a Manhattanite at loose financial ends — he loses one of his part-time jobs when his buddy, Murray (Woody Allen), is forced to close his used bookstore. ("It takes rare people to buy rare books.") But Murray has a proposition: Fioravante can be a $1,000-a-go gigolo for a wealthy dermatologist (Sharon Stone) and perhaps her buddy (Sofia Vergara). Fioravante demurs — he doesn't want to be "a ho" — but ultimately, he takes the job. And surprise — he's super-great at it!
Only in a world of movies made by men does any of this make sense: Who casts current tabloid-fodder Allen as a pimp, especially one arguing that younger women desire older men? Why do any women, much less beautiful, successful ones, need a pimp or a pricey giglo, anyhow? This isn't 1914. Even accepting this — and no disrespect to Turturro — but can a shlubby, middle-aged guy really get $1,000?
It's too bad your mind will be consumed with these queries, which will likely overshadow the sweeter story about a relationship Turturro develops with a lonely Hasidic widow (Vanessa Paradis). But even that gets derailed by some comedic nonsense involving a Hasidic neighborhood watchman (Liev Schreiber).
It's all enough to make you want to shake a pair of old pros like Turturro and Allen and remind them: With small tales of the human heart, you don't need a bunch of window-dressing about vengeful Hasidim, or skeevy shots of our protagonist aimed through Vergara's legs.