Not to be confused with Shane Acker's dismal animation 9, this is another razzmatazz musical adapted by Rob Marshall (Chicago) from a Broadway show. The title is a reference to Fellini's 8 1/2, and the main character is an Italian film director (Daniel Day-Lewis) who's struggling to pull together a self-referential art-house epic in the supercool 60s as his wife (Marion Cotillard) and his mistress (Penelope Cruz) compete for his attention. With its stagy dance numbers, this reminded me more of Bob Fosse's confessional musical All That Jazz (1979) than 8 1/2, though it suffers from comparison to either, given that Marshall is several steps removed from Fellini's feverish self-investigation. It's a movie about a musical about a movie about a man's inner life—surely we can eliminate some of the middle men. With Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, and Fergie, whose patronizing number "Be Italian" has become the movie's marketing hook. PG-13.
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