Mighty Aphrodite

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Mighty Aphrodite
Mighty aphrodite ver2.jpg
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 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.


The film opens on ancient Greek ruins where a chanting Greek chorus introduces and narrates the story of Lenny Weinrib. Lenny is a sportswriter in Manhattan, married to ambitious curator Amanda. The couple decide to adopt a baby, a boy they name Max. Lenny is awed by their son who, it becomes increasingly clear, is a gifted child.

Lenny becomes obsessed with learning the identity of Max's biological mother. After a long search, Lenny is disturbed to find that she is a prostitute and part-time porn star, who uses several names but confesses her birth name is Leslie Ash, and she likes "Linda" because it means “beautiful” in Spanish. Lenny makes an "appointment" to see her at her apartment. Linda is a bit of a ditz with a crude sense of humor and delusions of becoming a stage actress. Lenny does not have intercourse with her but instead urges her to get away from prostitution and start a wholesome life. Linda becomes angry, refunds Lenny's money, and forces him to leave. Lenny, however, is determined to befriend her and improve her life. He first manages to get Linda away from her violent pimp and then attempts to pair Linda with a former boxer, Kevin. They appear to be a well-suited couple until Kevin discovers Linda's background.

Meanwhile, Lenny and Amanda have been drifting apart, due to Lenny's obsession with Linda, but also Amanda's career and her affair with her colleague Jerry. Amanda tells Lenny she wants to explore her relationship with Jerry. Lenny and Linda console each other over their break-ups, and end up finally engaging in intercourse. However, the next day Lenny reconciles with Amanda, and they realize that they are still in love. Linda tries unsuccessfully to get back with Kevin but on the drive back to Manhattan, she sees a helicopter dropping out of the sky. She pulls over and gives the pilot, Don, a ride. It is revealed by the Greek chorus that they will end up married, although Linda is now pregnant with Lenny's child.

Some years later, Linda (with her daughter) and Lenny (with Max) meet in a toy store. They both have each other's children but do not realize it. Linda thanks Lenny for everything he did to help her and then leaves Lenny dumbstruck. The film ends with the Greek chorus singing and dancing.



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[edit]

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[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Mighty Aphrodite (15)". British Board of Film Classification. January 31, 1996. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b "Mighty Aphrodite at TheNumbers.com". The-numbers.com. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  4. ^ Harris, Will (February 21, 2012). "Random Roles: Lea Thompson". The A.V. Club. 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. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  7. ^ "Mighty Aphrodite reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. 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. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 3, 1995). "Mighty Aphrodite". RogerEbert.com. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  11. ^ Garchik, Leah (October 27, 1995). "San Francisco Chronicle review". Sfgate.com. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  12. ^ Travers, Peter (January 11, 1996). "Mighty Aphrodite". Rolling Stone.
  13. ^ McCarthy, Todd (September 4, 1995). "Mighty Aphrodite". Variety.com. 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. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1996". BAFTA. 1996. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  16. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Casting Society of America. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  17. ^ "1988-2013 Award Winner Archives". Chicago Film Critics Association. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  18. ^ "1996, 2nd Annual Awards". Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film. 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. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  21. ^ "Mighty Aphrodite – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  22. ^ "The 21st Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards". Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  23. ^ "1997 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists". Mubi. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  24. ^ "1995 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  25. ^ "Past Awards". National Society of Film Critics. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  26. ^ "1995 New York Film Critics Circle Awards". Mubi. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  27. ^ "The 2nd Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  28. ^ "1995 – Winners SEFCA". Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  29. ^ "Awards Winners". wga.org. Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2010.

External links[edit]