All About Nina is all about the trials and well-deserved tribulations of a filthy-mouth girl comedienne who can’t break into the big-time in the ugly basements of New York comedy clubs so she moves to L.A., where failure under a palm tree in front of an automotive repair shop is much worse. The F-word is the one that comes out of Nina’s mouth every ten seconds. She also talks about enemas, diarrhea, men’s genitals and her period.
The laughs are few and slow in coming, and you’re not five minutes into the film before you know why. Despite a lively performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Nina is a big bore with a small talent and a one-track mind.
ALL ABOUT NINA ★
The trouble with Nina and so many other comics, from my friend Joan Rivers (a totally different person offstage from the potty mouth who would say anything for a laugh in the center spot) to the obnoxious Kathy Griffin, is as obvious as it is pathetic. They think vulgarity is the only thing that can get a laugh. I say bring back Kaye Ballard, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, who could reduce sold-out houses to hysterics without ever using the F-word or losing their femininity in the bargain. All About Nina is nothing to laugh about.
The ho-hum direction and the nasty script, both by Eva Vives, plod along blindly until Nina moves to Hollywood, where the bad music from Santa Monica Boulevard and the freaks from Topanga Canyon enter her life fast, giving her new material, along with therapeutic values she never got in the East Village. She also vomits a lot.
Anyway, Nina is so calloused by her dead-end life (a boyfriend cop used to beat her up a lot) and her own low ambitions (imitating Celine Dion in the mirror is hardly studying at the Actors Studio) that she cannot respond when the genuine thing comes along at last in the form of a handsome 42-year-old grownup named Rafe (Common) who qualifies as a real man with humor, sensitivity and affection, instead of throwing her into bed.
Of course that happens, too. Then the film goes for the ick factor and oozes it way into tapioca.
Nina, you see, has a million issues. She’s used to dialogue that goes like this:
She: “You know why I will never Fuck you? It’s because you haven’t got a single original bone in your body.”
He: “I’d like to put an original bone in your body.”
So she’s incapable of a relationship with any meaning and carries around a lot of emotional luggage—all because of a back story that includes a father who committed suicide. The clichés come raining down like an April shower in Hoboken. None of this adds up to any real concerns the viewer might have in mind, and although Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common are probably capable of displaying genuine talent some day, they’ll need a better movie than All About Nina, which, in the end, is really all about nothing at all.