It’s the 1930s and young Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) has moved from New York to Hollywood in the hopes of making it big. He is hired by his uncle, Phil Stern (Steve Carell) a big time agent, to do odd jobs and falls in love with a pretty secretary named Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). When life in Hollywood doesn’t work out, Bobby returns to New York to work at his gangster brother’s night club.

Woody Allen’s films have always been distinctly New York. When he ventures to other places, there is a distinct unease to his work. No matter where he goes, its is hard to hide the New York feel. His discomfort shows in Cafe Society as Allen attempts to transplant New York onto glamorous 1930s LA. By never fully committing to the west coast, Allen has managed to somewhat disguise his discomfort. The film straddles both cities with his leading man, Bobby, a New York extraction which keeps one foot firmly planted in Allen’s comfort zone as he inches out of it.

Other than the new location, Cafe Society is little more than an amalgam of the elements that have defined Woody Allen as an auteur. Allen tries to give us a romantic hero in Bobby, but he is just as neurotic as earlier Allen characters as Eisenberg gives his best impression of a young Allen. There is the obligatory off-putting romance between a young woman and a man old enough to be her father. The action is minimal, as the actors sit and talk at each other for ninety minutes. The script is packed with witty one-liners, intellectual observations, and constant references to Jewish culture.

All this combines for a pleasant, if not particularly memorable film. There are some great lines of dialogue, but most of the cast are sleepwalking through their scenes. They appear to have only signed their contract to cross working with Woody Allen off their bucket list. There are a few moments of brilliance, but they are few and far between.

Cafe Society might be Allen’s best outing in awhile, but that’s not saying much. At best, it’s a nice little film. At worst, it’s a tired rehash from a once great filmmaker who is well past his prime.