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Mighty Aphrodite

Original poster
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Robert Greenhut
Written by Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen
Mira Sorvino
Helena Bonham Carter
Michael Rapaport
F. Murray Abraham
Cinematography Carlo Di Palma
Editing by Susan E. Morse
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s) October 27, 1995 (USA)
February 14, 1996 (France)
April 12, 1996 (UK)
Running time 95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15,000,000 (estimated)
Gross revenue $26,000,000 (worldwide)

Mighty Aphrodite is a 1995 American comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen. The screenplay was inspired by the mythological tale of Pygmalion.



Throughout the film, a Greek chorus narrates and comments on the action, also Oedipus, Jocasta, Tiresias and Cassandra take part in the film, sometimes directly intervining or just commenting. Sportswriter Lenny Weinrib (Woody Allen) and his career-driven wife Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter) are at dinner with another couple. Amanda decides she wants a baby and, because she can't afford to get pregnant due to her job, she says they will adopt. Lenny is opposed to this, but as always Amanda has her way, and they adopt a baby boy, whom they name Max. As Max grows up, it becomes clear he is highly intelligent. Lenny becomes obsessed with learning the identity of his biological mother. After great difficulty, Lenny finally locates his mother: prostitute and part-time porn star Linda Ash (Mira Sorvino). Lenny makes an "appointment" with her. At first, Linda appears to be a dumb blonde with a crude sense of humour, and deluded dreams of becoming an actress. When Lenny doesn't sleep with her but starts urging her to stop being a prostitute, Linda becomes furious and throws him out. It takes a while for Lenny to befriend Linda, and he begins her lifestyle makeover. Lenny tricks Linda into telling him about the child she gave up for adoption. He persuades her to quit being a prostitute and bribes her violent pimp with basketball tickets to let Linda go. Lenny then sets Linda up with a boxer-turned-onion farmer Kevin (Michael Rappaport). It appears to be a perfect match, until Kevin discovers Linda's background and leaves her. Meanwhile, Amanda has been having an affair with her colleague Jerry (Peter Weller), and Lenny finds out. Lenny and Linda console one another and sleep together. Lenny then meets guilt-ridden Amanda, and they realise they are still in love. Linda makes one last attempt to win back Kevin and, as she drives back into the city, a helicopter drops out of the sky. Linda gives the pilot Don a lift, and they end up getting married. The twist is that Linda is pregnant with Lenny's child. A year later, Lenny and Linda, with their individual children, meet in a toy store. They have each other's child, but they don't know it.

Production notes

Dick Hyman served as the film's music coordinator, arranger, and conductor. The soundtrack includes "Neo Minore" performed by Vassilis Tsitsanis, "Horos Tou Sakena" by George Zambetas, "I've Found a New Baby" by Wilbur de Paris, "Whispering" by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra, "Manhattan" by Carmen Cavallaro, "When Your Lover Has Gone" by Ambrose & His Orchestra, "L'il Darlin" by Count Basie & His Orchestra, "Take Five" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, "Penthouse Serenade (When We're Alone)" and "I Hadn't Anyone Till You" by Erroll Garner, "The In Crowd" by Ramsey Lewis, and "You Do Something to Me" and "When You're Smiling" by the Dick Hyman Chorus & Orchestra. Graciela Daniele choreographed the dance routines.

The Greek chorus includes George de la Peña and Pamela Blair. Tony Sirico and Paul Giamatti make brief appearances in minor roles.

Manhattan locations include Bowling Green, Central Park, and FAO Schwarz. Additional exteriors were filmed in North Tarrytown and Quogue. The Greek chorus scenes were filmed in the Teatro Greco in Taormina on the island of Sicily.

The film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival before going into limited release in the US. It opened on 19 screens and earned $326,494 its opening weekend. It eventually grossed $6,401,297 in the US and $19,598,703 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $26,000,000 [1].


The protagonist, Lennie Weinrib, appears to share a geographical connection, and an uncommon name, with the late voice actor, Lennie Weinrib.

Principal cast

Critical reception

In her review in the New York Times, Janet Maslin said, "Even when it becomes unmistakably lightweight, Mighty Aphrodite remains witty, agile and handsomely made." [2]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "a sunny comedy" and added, "The movie's closing scene is quietly, sweetly ironic, and the whole movie skirts the pitfalls of cynicism and becomes something the Greeks could never quite manage, a potential tragedy with a happy ending." [3]

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Leah Garchik said the film was "an inventive movie, imaginative and rich in detail" and added, "Woody Allen's incredible wit is at the heart of all that's wonderful in Mighty Aphrodite, and Woody Allen's incredible ego is at the core of its major flaw . . . He fails when he attempts . . . to get the audience to suspend its disbelief and accept Allen, a withered Romeo, as a sweet-natured naif. The crotchety charm of the shy and awkward characters he played as a young man has worn off; nowadays, he comes across as just plain crotchety." [4]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, "The film is a showcase for Sorvino, actor Paul's Harvard-grad daughter, who gives a sensational performance. She shows startling humor and heart without trading on sentiment." [5]

In Variety, Todd McCarthy described the film as "a zippy, frothy confection that emerges as agreeable middle-range Woody . . . There is perhaps a bit too much of the chorus galavanting about delivering their increasingly colloquial admonitions and too few convulsive laughs, but the writer-director has generally pitched the humor at a pleasing and relatively consistent level . . . The film's biggest surprise, and attraction, is Sorvino . . . [who] goes way beyond the whore-with-a-heart-of-gold externals of the part in developing a deeply sympathetic and appealing character. None of the diverse roles she has done to date would have suggested her for this part, but this gutsy performance will put her much more prominently on the map." [6]

Awards and nominations

See also


External links

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