March 28, 2005 12:00 PM

Radha Mitchell, Will Ferrell, Chloe Sevigny, Amanda Peet

While an improvement over the last couple of depressingly wan efforts (Hollywood Ending and Anything Else) by director-writer Woody Allen, this latest is no masterwork. Make that two non-gems, because the conceit of Melinda and Melinda is that it tells the same story twice, viewed alternately through tragic and comic lenses. Thus Melinda (Mitchell, impressively doing double duty) is a self-destructive mess beyond help from her well-meaning pals in the dramatic half and a charmingly neurotic goof-think Annie Hall-in the comic one. M&M toggles between the two tales with occasional flashes of wit and insight, though never enough to make this seem like more than a wispy cinematic party trick. (PG-13)

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