SIMON -- AMC Academy, Avalon, Beacon Mall, Fair City Mall, K-B Cerberus, Roth's Parkway, Springfield Mall and Wheaton Plaza.
For years, we have all loved Woody Allen as the neurotic, homely, intellectually anxious Little Guy. But this empathetic persona has turned into quite a Little Superstar. By the latest Allen film, the character's problems had stopped being such indignities as elevators talking back to him and become the trials being pursued by too many beautiful lovers and having too much celebrity circuit pressure.
For a more modestly scaled Little Guy, at least in filmland terms, what about Marshall Brickman? This is the man who collaborated with Allen on "Sleeper," "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan," but whose name nobody except trivia experts ever remembered. The anonymous little guy behind the bigshot little guy.
So you can't help pulling for Marshall Brickman on his first solo film, "Simon." This is his picture. "I wanted to write my own material and see if I could do it," he went around saying. He directed it too. Come on, Marshall! Get out there and show us what you can do all by yourself.
Unfortunately for the underdog theory, what he has done is -- an old Woody Allen movie. More correctly, perhaps, it's an old Woody Allen-Marshall Brickman movie. This time he can take all the credit for the jokes about life's mechanical and human irritations -- Muzak, diet books, politicians, Lawyers -- and the plot about crazy scientists who unleash these forces on the world. Some of it is quite funny, some is well-paced frantic comedy. Lots of it is obvious and repetitive.
But none of it is new or original. This is simply another example of a successful formula, and by no means the best example.
It takes place at the Institute for Advanced Concepts, where, thanks to substantial government funding, the nation's most brilliant scientists drink rare wines and practice their musical instruments. They also have some obscure interest in messing around with the national psyche, which includes brainwashing a poor slob of a social scientist -- "Simon," played by Alan Arkin -- into thinking he's from outer space, come to save earth from petty annoyances.
You can picture it, surely, as an old Woody Allen movie. With Marshall Brickman's collaboration, of course.