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Mighty Aphrodite

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mighty Aphrodite
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWoody Allen
Written byWoody Allen
Produced by
CinematographyCarlo Di Palma
Edited bySusan E. Morse
Music byDick Hyman
  • Sweetland Films
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
  • October 27, 1995 (1995-10-27) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[2]
Box office$26 million[3]

Mighty Aphrodite is a 1995 American comedy film written, directed by, and co-starring Woody Allen, alongside Mira Sorvino, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Rapaport, and F. Murray Abraham. The screenplay was vaguely inspired by the story of Pygmalion and is about Lenny Weinrib's (Allen) search for his genius adopted son's biological mother, ultimately finding that she is a dim-witted prostitute named Linda Ash (Sorvino).

While critical reception of Mighty Aphrodite overall was mildly positive, Sorvino was highly praised for her performance, earning several accolades such as the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as a Golden Globe Award, New York Film Critics Circle Award, Critics' Choice Movie Award, National Board of Review Award, and a Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award.

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  • Mira Sorvino winning Best Supporting Actress



The film opens with a scene of ancient Greek ruins (the ancient theatre in Taormina, Sicily), where a Greek chorus begins to introduce and narrate the story of Lenny Weinrib. Lenny, a sportswriter in Manhattan, is married to the ambitious art curator, Amanda. The couple adopts a baby boy and names him Max. As Lenny spends more time with Max it becomes evident that the child is remarkably gifted. Intrigued, Lenny becomes obsessed with uncovering the identity of Max's biological mother.

After an extensive search Lenny discovers that Max's biological mother is a prostitute and part-time porn star who goes by various names. However she reveals her birth name as Leslie Ash and expresses her preference for being called Linda because it means ‘pretty’ in Spanish. Lenny arranges to meet Linda at her apartment but doesn't engage in any intimate activities. Instead he encourages her to leave her current lifestyle behind and pursue a more wholesome life. Linda reacts angrily, returning Lenny's money and demanding that he leave.

Undeterred, Lenny remains determined to befriend Linda and improve her circumstances. He successfully helps Linda escape her abusive pimp and then tries to match her up with a boxer named Kevin. Initially they seem like a well-matched couple but their relationship sours when Kevin discovers Linda's background.

Meanwhile Lenny and Amanda's marriage begins to falter owing to Lenny's preoccupation with Linda, Amanda's career ambitions and her affair with her colleague Jerry. Amanda eventually confesses to Lenny that she wants to explore her relationship with Jerry. However Lenny and Linda find solace in each other following their respective breakups and end up consummating their relationship. The next day, though, Lenny reconciles with Amanda, realizing that they are still deeply in love.

Linda, on the other hand, unsuccessfully tries to win back Kevin. While driving back to Manhattan she witnesses a helicopter landing and offers a lift to the pilot, Don. The Greek chorus reveals that Linda and Don will eventually marry, although Linda is now pregnant with Lenny's child. About a year later Linda (with her infant daughter) and Lenny (with Max) meet by chance in a toy store. Unaware of the connection, Linda expresses her gratitude to Lenny for his help and leaves him stunned. The film concludes with the Greek chorus performing a lively song and dance routine.



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 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 antico 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."[4]

In real life Leonard "Lenny" Weinrib was the name of an American actor, voice actor and writer known for playing the title role in the children's television show H.R. Pufnstuf. He died in 2006.



Mighty Aphrodite debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival before going into limited release in the United States. 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 international markets for a total worldwide box office of $26 million.[3]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 78% based on reviews from 36 critics, with an average rating of 6.84/10. The site's consensus states: "Mighty Aphrodite may not stand with Woody Allen's finest work, but it's brought to vivid life by a thoroughly winsome performance from Mira Sorvino."[6] On Metacritic it has a score of 59 out of 100 based on 16 reviews from critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B+" on scale of A+ to F.[8]

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."[9]

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."[10]

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."[11]

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."[12]

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."[13]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Mira Sorvino Won [14]
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Woody Allen Nominated
American Choreography Awards Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Graciela Daniele Won
Artios Awards Best Casting for Feature Film – Comedy Juliet Taylor Nominated [15]
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Mira Sorvino Nominated [16]
Butaca Awards Best Art House Film Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Mira Sorvino Nominated [17]
Chlotrudis Awards Best Supporting Actress Won [18]
Critics' Choice Awards Best Supporting Actress Won [19]
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Film Woody Allen Nominated [20]
Best Foreign Director Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Mira Sorvino Won [21]
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [22]
Nastro d'Argento Best Cinematography Carlo Di Palma Won [23]
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 6th Place [24]
Best Supporting Actress Mira Sorvino Won
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [25]
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actress Won [26]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated [27]
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Won [28]
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Woody Allen Nominated [29]


  1. ^ "Mighty Aphrodite (15)". British Board of Film Classification. January 31, 1996. Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  2. ^ "Mighty Aphrodite | PowerGrid". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Mighty Aphrodite at". Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  4. ^ Harris, Will (February 21, 2012). "Random Roles: Lea Thompson". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  5. ^ Harvey, Adam (2007). The Soundtracks of Woody Allen. US: Macfarland & Company,Inc. p. 98. ISBN 9780786429684.
  6. ^ "Mighty Aphrodite (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  7. ^ "Mighty Aphrodite reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  8. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  9. ^ Maslin, Janet (October 27, 1995). "New York Times review". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 3, 1995). "Mighty Aphrodite". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  11. ^ Garchik, Leah (October 27, 1995). "San Francisco Chronicle review". Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  12. ^ Travers, Peter (January 11, 1996). "Mighty Aphrodite". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  13. ^ McCarthy, Todd (September 4, 1995). "Mighty Aphrodite". Archived from the original on March 3, 2017. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  14. ^ "The 68th Academy Awards (1996) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AMPAS. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  15. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Casting Society of America. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  16. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1996". BAFTA. 1996. Archived from the original on June 12, 2019. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  17. ^ "1988-2013 Award Winner Archives". Chicago Film Critics Association. January 2013. Archived from the original on April 10, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  18. ^ "1996, 2nd Annual Awards". Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film. Archived from the original on November 9, 2019. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  19. ^ "The BFCA Critics' Choice Awards :: 1995". Broadcast Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on December 12, 2008.
  20. ^ "Cronologia Dei Premi David Di Donatello". David di Donatello. Archived from the original on April 26, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  21. ^ "Mighty Aphrodite – Golden Globes". HFPA. Archived from the original on October 31, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  22. ^ "The 21st Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards". Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on July 9, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  23. ^ "1997 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists". Mubi. Archived from the original on February 14, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  24. ^ "1995 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Archived from the original on June 23, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  25. ^ "Past Awards". National Society of Film Critics. December 19, 2009. Archived from the original on October 17, 2015. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  26. ^ "1995 New York Film Critics Circle Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  27. ^ "The 2nd Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Archived from the original on April 5, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  28. ^ "1995 – Winners SEFCA". Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards. Archived from the original on December 6, 2019. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  29. ^ "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2010.

External links

This page was last edited on 28 May 2024, at 16:16
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