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Mighty Aphrodite

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Title: Mighty Aphrodite  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 68th Academy Awards, Woody Allen, Peter Weller, Mira Sorvino, 1995 in film
Collection: 1990S Comedy Films, 1995 Films, American Films, American Satirical Films, American Sex Comedy Films, English-Language Films, Erotic Fantasy Films, Films About Prostitution, Films Based on Greco-Roman Mythology, Films Directed by Woody Allen, Films Featuring a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award Winning Performance, Films Featuring a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe Winning Performance, Films Produced by Letty Aronson, Films Produced by Robert Greenhut, Films Set in New York City, Films Shot in Italy, Films Shot in New York City, Miramax Films, Screenplays by Woody Allen
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Mighty Aphrodite

Mighty Aphrodite
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Letty Aronson
Robert Greenhut
Written by Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen
Mira Sorvino
Helena Bonham Carter
Michael Rapaport
F. Murray Abraham
Music by Dick Hyman
Cinematography Carlo Di Palma
Edited by Susan E. Morse
Magnolia Pictures
Sweetland Pictures
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • October 27, 1995 (1995-10-27)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $26,000,000

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

Allen co-stars with Mira Sorvino, who received the 1995 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production notes 3
  • Release 4
    • Critical response 4.1
  • Awards and nominations 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The film opens on ancient Greek ruins where a chanting Greek chorus introduces and narrates the story of Lenny Weinrib (Woody Allen). Lenny is a sportswriter in Manhattan, married to ambitious curator Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter). The couple decide to adopt a baby, a boy they name Max. Lenny is awed by their son who, it becomes increasingly clear, is a gifted child.

Lenny becomes obsessed with learning the identity of Max's biological mother. After a long-winded search, Lenny finally locates the biological mother. He is disturbed to learn that she is a prostitute and part-time porn star, Linda Ash (Mira Sorvino). Lenny makes an "appointment" to see her at her apartment. Linda is a bit of a ditz with a crude sense of humor and delusions of becoming a stage actress. Lenny does not have intercourse with her but instead urges her to get away from prostitution and start a wholesome life. Linda becomes angry, refunds Lenny's money, and forces him to leave. Lenny, however, is determined to befriend her and improve her life. He first manages to get Linda away from her violent pimp and then attempts to match-make Linda with a former boxer, Kevin (Michael Rapaport). They appear to be a well-suited couple until Kevin discovers Linda's background.

Meanwhile, Lenny and Amanda have been drifting apart, due to Lenny's obsession with Linda, but also Amanda's career and her affair with her colleague Jerry (Peter Weller). Amanda leaves Lenny to explore the relationship. Lenny and Linda console each other over their break-ups, and end up finally engaging in intercourse. However, the next day Lenny reconciles with Amanda, and they realize that they are still in love. Linda tries unsuccessfully to get back with Kevin but on the drive back to Manhattan, she sees a helicopter dropping out of the sky. She pulls over and gives the pilot, Don, a ride. It is revealed by the Greek chorus that they will end up married, although Linda has fallen pregnant with Lenny's child.

Some years later, Linda (with her daughter) and Lenny (with Max) meet in a toy store. They both have each other's children but do not realize it. Linda thanks Lenny for everything he did to help her and then leaves Lenny dumbstruck. The film ends with the Greek chorus singing and dancing.


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 Stavros Xarchakos, "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 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.

Mira Sorvino mentioned in a 2011 interview that she chose Linda's voice to be high and gravelly since "high voice kind of makes you sound less intellectually gifted, and the gravelly part just added this kind of rough-and-tumble, been-to-the-school-of-hard-knocks element to it." Four weeks into the production, Allen spoke with Sorvino asking if she had ever wondered about using a different voice. Sorvino stated that the voice affected how she approached the character, and that if she changed the voice the character changed. When she pointed out that they were four weeks into the movie Allen said, "Oh, that doesn’t matter. I have it written into my budget that I can reshoot the entire movie if I want."[1]


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.[2]

Critical response

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."[3]

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."[4]

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."[5]

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."[6]

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."[7]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Recipient Result
Academy Award Best Original Screenplay Woody Allen Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Mira Sorvino Won
Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Supporting Actress Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Won
National Board of Review Award Best Supporting Actress Won
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Won
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Won
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Writers Guild of America Award Best Original Screenplay Woody Allen Nominated
Nastro d'Argento Silver Ribbon Best Cinematography Carlo Di Palma Won
Butaca Award Best Art House Film Mighty Aphrodite Won
American Choreography Award Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Graciela Daniele Won

See also


  1. ^ Harris, Will (2012-02-21). "Random Roles: Lea Thompson". Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  2. ^ 'Mighty Aphrodite'' at"'". Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (1995-10-27). 'New York Times'' review"'". Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  4. ^ 'Chicago Sun-Times'' review"'". 1995-11-03. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  5. ^ Garchik, Leah (1995-10-27). 'San Francisco Chronicle'' review"'". Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  6. ^ reviewRolling Stone
  7. ^ McCarthy, Todd (1995-09-03). 'Variety'' review"'". Retrieved 2011-06-26. 

External links

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