"It's Bavarian pasta, it doesn't need sauce. The Italians need sauce. The Italians were weak!"
You ever hear a movie line that struck your funny bone in such a way that no matter how many times you hear it, it makes you chuckle? The one I quoted above from Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You is such a line, spoken by the German cook of a wealthy Manhattanite family. The line's humor is derived from its historical resonance and the situational irony of a domestic talking back to her employer.
But, I don't want to bore you with my dime-store literary analysis. The real joy of Everyone Says I Love You is the whimsy it brings to the characters and their situations. The movie just refuses to take the troubles of these affluent people seriously, and the songs serve to punch up their melodramatic ridiculousness.
The songs are the real stars anyway. Allen chose to use old standards rather than brand new material, and the result is a soundtrack you can hum along to while you watch the characters and their situations become more and more absurd.
As with many Woody Allen films, there are multiple storylines with characters and plot events weaving in and out of each other. All of the stories in Everyone Says I Love You deal with love and its various foibles. And, occasionally, the characters sing about what they are feeling and experiencing. These moments take the form of boisterous ensemble numbers ("My Baby Just Cares For Me") to intimate moments in which characters seem to be singing privately to themselves ("I'm Through With Love").
For the most part, both the singing and the dancing are characterized by how average they are. Allen shied away from using authentic dancers and singers and instead had good actors just sing and dance as an extension of what is going on with their characters. Many of them could already hold a tune (Alan Alda and Goldie Hawn), but most of them are just good actors with no particular vocal talent (Edward Norton and Julia Roberts).
The result is paradoxically charming. Edward Norton's unpolished voice really accentuates his character's goofy love for his fiancee. Julia Roberts' pitch problems introduce a vulnerability to her character as she is being wooed by Woody Allen. To describe this film is risk the idea of turning people away - a musical featuring actors who can't really sing or dance - but, to watch it is to be pulled into a silly world of people sometimes acting foolishly. And, somehow, it all works.