Woody Allen is one of the all-time most prolific directors as he has created a movie almost every single year since he started in 1966 with What's Up, Tiger Lily? Even more impressive is that despite that output, he has been able to make some of the funniest, most irreverent and thought-provoking comedies ever, and has critically acclaimed all-time classics like Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters and Crime and Misdemeanors. An output like that also makes it inevitable some stinkers make their way through, and there is even a long-standing theory that has arisen over the last decade that every other Allen movie is worthwhile. Since Blue Jasmine was one of the best of 2013, then it seems safe to get excited about Irrational Man in 2015 (I still haven't seen last year's Magic in the Moonlight).
Trailer serves up a pretty common Allen story. The protagonist has hit rock bottoms and is overwhelmed with a slew of neurosis and issues. Then of course there is an ill-conceived romance that probably is bad for both involved and will pluck out all their quirks and faults for uproarious banter. But Allen's best work hasn't ever really been about having an original plot. It is the witty dialogue and the awkward comedy and of course, the great performances.
It looks like Emma Stone has become Allen's recent muse to replace past recurring stars like Diane Keaton (1970 and 1980s) and Mia Farrow (they were an actual couple). I'd say she is a great choice who brings a strong screen presence and has a sharp wit. Being attached to an Allen project helps her chances to be seen enough to earn her another Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, there isn't anything stands out in the short clips we see of her here. It will be the performances that make this movie work with its typical plot of a philosophy professor suffering from an emotional breakdown who tries to get rejuvenated by a relationship with a younger woman.
Actually, that plot can be a little shaky ground for Allen. It is far from the first time he has had a plot about an older man in a relationship with a younger woman (last year had it too). It has happened quite often, actually. It will bring up memories of recent accusations and probably trigger many think pieces he'd rather ignore. But it is also just Allen being Allen and everyone else can be damned.
If you're going to have an emotionally wrecked, drunken professor than Joaquin Phoenix is your man. I'm sure he'll have great chemistry with Stone. Also Parker Posey seems to be joining in on some affair action as well and I love that she is back in a movie that people will actually see (Allen movies are the one guaranteed independent picture to find an audience every year). I must confess that I confused Parker for Sally Hawkins until I consulted IMDb. That may just be a sign of how long she has been out of the spotlight and also Hawkins was in Allen's last Oscar nominated movie, Blue Jasmine.
At this point I'm not really all that giddy for this like I have been with his past movies, because as I wrote, it feels tired and worn out. But the Allen name and the cast should still be enough to give it a shot.