Previews make you think so, as does the cast.
Director: Woody Allen
Likes to walk: Owen Wilson
Uber-bitch: Rachel McAdams
Lovely: Marion Cotillard
F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tom Hiddleston
Zelda Fitzgerald: Alison Pill
Ernest Hemingway: Corey Stoll
Gertrude Stein: Kathy Bates
Salvado Dali: Adrien Brody
McAdams parents: Kurt Fuller, Mimi KennedyInteresting inclusions: Carla Bruni, Michael Sheen
Woody Allen wrote a short story, "The Kugelmass Episode", published in 1977, where the main character, Kugelmass, meets a magician that transports him into the text of Madam Bovary. There Kugelmass and Bovary meet. Kugelmass visits her often and they become lovers.
Midnight in Paris utilizes a similar premise. Wilson and McAdams are an engaged couple in France on business. One evening, Wilson goes for a stroll while McAdams goes dancing with friends. As a clock's midnight chiming rings upon the streets, Wilson encounters a taxi full of revelers who draw him into the cab, back to the 1920s (and Marion Cotillard). The remainder of the story oscillates between the two time periods.
Wilson's enthusiasm and honesty drew me into the film. It also amused me Wilson is continually skeptical of his fiance, of her family, of her friends, of the present-day, but totally accepting of time traveling and interacting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein.
Skeptical or accepting, that's how you'll feel. You may notice the 92% score on RT, or the 81 on Metacritic. Critics have accepted the film. And that's because, as Ebert put it "'Midnight in Paris' is for me..." In this case, "me" means art lovers. Critics are, when it comes down to it, lovers of art. And this film loves art. Wilson meets Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Stein, Picasso, Josephine Baker, Juan Belmonte, Cole Porter, Djuna Barnes, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Bunuel, T.S. Eliot, Matisse, Leo Stein, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, and Degas. If you don't care about those names or don't recognize those names, you probably won't enjoy the film since a majority of the film's enjoyment comes from seeing these figures brought to life.
Hemingway for example. If you're familiar with his life and work, you'll watch the scenes he's in and laugh at his every word. But say you know nothing of Hemingway other than he wrote Moby Dick (which is wrong, that was Melville; Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls or The Old Man and the Sea or A Farewell to Arms)...you'll hear other people laughing at what he's saying as you think "what the hell is he talking about? And why are they laughing????" This movie is not universal. The jokes are for the culturally-inclined and are untranslatable.
Only use Midnight in Paris as a date movie if you know your date loves modernist art and owns a working knowledge of the artists of that time. Or loves Woody Allen films. Otherwise, see Kung Fu Panda 2 or Hangover Part II.
Did I Like It:
We've come to expect characters to change over the course of the film. So when Rachel McAdams starts off as kind of a bitch, you expect, by the film's end, she'll become a little sweeter. She doesn't. She gets even bitchier. There's nothing redeeming about her at all. And I praise Woody Allen for that.
Other things I enjoyed:
Getting to stare at Marion Cotillard.
Of note: Rachel McAdams and Michael Sheen (who plays this pompous, over-cultured douche who thinks his opinion trumps all others and politely condescends Wilson at every opportunity (which is doubly funny as the film DOESN'T cater to this kind of uber-informed egghead (though it seems it should) but to the Wilson type of "lover of art", and basically mocks who would judge art (and thus the film))) are actually dating.
% Character / % Actor's personality or previous roles
Allen: What's Up, Tiger Lily?; Annie Hall; Manhattan Murder Mystery; Antz; Match Point; Vicky Christina Barcelona
Wilson: Wedding Crashers; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; The Big Bounce
McAdams: Mean Girls; The Notebook; Wedding Crashers; Red Eye;
Cotillard: Inception; Big Fish
Bates: Misery; Titanic