Radio Days (1987)

89.

★★★★
Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Starring: Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest and Mike Starr

When film and television became the popular mode of entertainment, many people believed it was the death of radio. For a medium that relies purely on voices, music, sound effects, and the imagination of its listeners, radio appeared to be the sure loser when compared to the moving image. Woody Allen’s Radio Days, however, uses film as a way of nostalgically recalling radio’s golden age. From the perspective of a young child who witnesses the impact of radio in the lives of his family members and neighbors in Rockaway, Woody Allen delivers sweet, funny, and observant stories about how entertainment, and more fundamentally, storytelling brings meaning and joy into the lives of people as absurd and animated as the radio shows they love.

The good old days.

Despite not having a conventional structure, or a straightforward storyline to follow, the series of vignettes that make up Radio Days cover an array of characters, settings, and situations that prove to be pleasantly surprising. With Woody Allen’s voice-over (but no appearance from the actor himself), the mini stories of sex, religion, family, and childhood are held together by a consistent mood of fondness for the familiar and the ordinary. With Woody Allen film regulars such as Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow, and Tony Roberts (plus bonus Seth Green as a youngster), Radio Days is a film that bends conventions without straying too far from what makes us laugh and move us.

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