-Deconstructing Harry turned out to be Woody’s most controversial film since Stardust Memories, primarily owing to the number of film critics and moviegoers it managed to offend. 
-In The New York Times, Molly Haskell described the picture as “one long diatribe against women, wives, and Jews.” 
-Female audiences in particular tended to recoil from Woody’s new screen persona, namely the horny senior citizen who becomes involved with pretty young women played by Elisabeth Shue and Julia Roberts. 
-A disgusted Los Angeles Times columnist wondered how many people would want to see Joan Rivers write, direct and star in movie after movie in which she indulged in sexual liaisons with sexy young men? 
-"His new movie is vulgar, smutty, profane, self-hating, self-justifying, self-involved, tasteless, bankrupt and desperate, I've read. Even the kinder reviews turn sour. Here's a quote from David Edelstein of Slate: "The result is more rambunctious--and more fun--than any movie he has made in years. What puzzles me is why it still adds up to something so anemic and coldly distasteful.'' When a film makes me laugh and then I learn that it's vulgar, I'm reminded of Mel Brooks' defense of "The Producers" (1968): "My film rises below vulgarity." -Roger Ebert
-That's the "Deconstructing Harry" defense; there is hardly a criticism that can be thrown at Allen that he hasn't already thrown at himself (or his alter ego) in the film. This is in many ways his most revealing film, his most painful, and if it also contains more than his usual quotient of big laughs, what was it the man said? "We laugh, that we may not cry.'' -Roger Ebert
-In a 1997 interview about Deconstructing Harry, Woody Allen said “it’s about a nasty, shallow, superficial, sexually obsessed writer, so of course everyone’s going to think it’s about me.” His weary sarcasm proved prescient: people did think it was about him. It’s hard not to, as this is a movie that captures and exaggerates many of the worst things people have long thought about Allen. 
-This extraordinary departure from his neurotic but engaging screen persona was calculated to draw a younger, hipper generation of moviegoers, who, in Jena Doumanian’s words, finally “got a film out of Woody they can identify with. 
Harry Block is a well-regarded novelist whose tendency to thinly-veil his own experiences in his work, as well as his un-apologetic attitude and his proclivity for pills and whores, has left him with three ex-wives that hate him. As he is about to be honored for his writing by the college that expelled him, he faces writer's block and the impending marriage of his latest flame to a writer friend. As scenes from his stories and novels pass and interact with him, Harry faces the people whose lives he has affected - wives, lovers, his son, his sister. 
-So in Deconstructing Harry, Allen casts himself as Harry Block, a novelist who, by his own admission, is immature, egocentric, reprehensible, anhedonic, vain, cowardly, friendless, soulless, angry at life, spiritually bankrupt, obsessed with prostitutes and unable to function in the real world, escaping instead to his art, where his gift for words can create imaginary worlds that salve his neuroses and revenge all the people he can't forgive, even though he's the one who needs to beg forgiveness of them. 
-Thus Deconstructing Harry turns life into art, then turns it back again, and then turns it back once more. If it's not quite a work of comic genius, then it's pretty close: It may be Allen's best film since Annie Hall, which shares a lot with Deconstructing Harry, especially in how it subverts its own reality to fictionalize Harry's already fictional life. The literary theory called deconstruction claims that all narratives unravel because of the their hidden agendas and subconscious meanings. So Allen saves us the trouble and unravels his film for us. 
-These stories were fanciful products of Allen's intellectual fixations. Later, as a filmmaker, he became overtly "autobiographical," though his brand of confessional movies tends to expose his psychosexual preoccupations, not necessarily the literal facts of his life. The ex-wives in Deconstructing Harry don't bear even the vaguest resemblance to Allen's most notable past partners, like Louise Lasser, Mia Farrow, and especially not Diane Keaton, with whom Allen is still close. 
-So as Allen routs his old literary tendencies, he tells a story of a man much like himself--at least, like we've come to believe he is. Could the sheer magnitude of nefariousness he packs into Harry Block be Allen's truest confession? Or has he created a character so absurdly cretinous that he's flipping a smug finger at the media and amplifying their scorn to darkly comic levels? Harry says he likes hookers and young women because he doesn't want to grow up, and he writes because he can't find a way to live in the real world. Yet even though Harry is gloriously unlikable for most of the movie, Allen ultimately seems to embrace the notion that art excuses just about anything. 
-I would have liked it better if Allen had suggested that Harry's kind of moral corruption is a characteristic of the artist that we should tolerate, even if it disturbs us. Allen laces his dialogue with contradictions about whether we should believe the autobiographical nature of art, or whether it's all just a product of an artist's wild imagination. He scolds Harry more than he justifies his betrayal of the women in his life, who are all quite shrill, and understandably so. He's turned them into harpies with his lies and infidelities. 
All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it.
-In addition to Elliot Gould and Dennis Hopper, the part of Harry Block was also offered to Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Albert Brooks. All of them were either unavailable or wanted too much money. With two weeks left until shooting, Allen gave up and decided to just play the part himself. 
-Albert Brooks was the last actor to be offered the role of Harry. In an interview with Playboy magazine, he stated that he received a nice letter from Woody Allen offering him the role. Brooks responded, "It was insane that [Allen] didn't do it himself." Apparently, Woody took his advice. 
-Woody Allen based Harry's trip on Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries. 
-A lot of reviews speculate that Harry Block was based on Philip Roth, although Allen has never mentioned that. He’s presumably familiar with him, however, as Roth’s wife, Claire Bloom, has acted in three Woody Allen movies. 
-Jennifer Garner's feature film debut. 
-Woody Allen initially conceived this movie as a way of off-loading miscellaneous half-finished stories and ideas that lacked the depth to be full movies — for example, the out-of-focus man, Death coming for the wrong person, etc. 
-The film opened the 1997 Venice Film Festival. 
-Max Chalawsky supposedly played Mendel Birnbaum in this film, but he was not seen anywhere in the print. 
-One of two 1997 films to star Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the other being Fathers' Day. 
-Elisabeth Röhm's (uncredited) film debut. 
-This is Woody Allen’s last movie with cinematographer Carlo Di Palma, who he’d worked with on nearly all of his movies since Hannah and her Sisters (1986). 
-Julie Kavner, who has been in more Woody Allen movies than anyone other than Mia Farrow or Diane Keaton, makes the last of her seven appearances (to date). 
Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
Every hooker I ever speak to tells me that it beats the hell out of waitressing. Waitressing's gotta be the worst fucking job in the world.
-David Luty for Film Journal International wrote: “Certainly a mark above Allen’s most recent work – it’s refreshing to see an artist spreading his wings this wide.”
-Susan Wloszczyna for USA TODAY wrote: "After nearly three decades of Woody Allen movies, it seems too obvious to state that the funnier they are, the better they are. And yet, this truism has particular relevance to Deconstructing Harry, a daring movie so angry and abrasive that more laughs (or fewer botched laugh attempts) might have made a tempering difference."
-Roger Ebert wrote: "The cannibal husband ends with a plea for understanding: "If I tell you why I did it, do you promise not to noodge me?'' Essentially, this is Allen's plea throughout. His private life has spilled untidily into the news in the last few years; enshrined as a cultural hero, he is in the uncomfortable position of feeling like a defendant. He explains, he excuses, he evades, and his critics are not satisfied: They want less, or more, or otherwise. But no single Woody Allen film ever sums up everything, or could, and what is fascinating is to watch him, year after year, making the most personal of films, and hiding himself in plain view."
-Every Woody Allen Movie website critic Trevor Gilks wrote: "I was excited for Deconstructing Harry, but quickly disappointed as I got into it. It’s darker, fouler and possibly more personal than Stardust, but lacks its wit and beauty. There’s indisputably a fresh look at Allen’s psyche buried somewhere within, but as a movie, Deconstructing Harry is resigned and pointlessly misanthropic. Had it been made by someone I didn’t have a vested interest in, I would probably have forgotten it moments after it ended. After starting his career with 20+ PG movies, I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to talk this way and not have it sound forced and awkward. In Deconstructing Harry, his dirty talk just comes across as a desperate plea for renewed relevance."
-He continues: "Woody Allen’s ‘90s comedies have been enjoyable, but there’s a “gimmick of the week” trend that’s beginning to emerge. Each year, Allen infuses an otherwise straightforward movie with a new gimmick — Mighty Aphrodite had its Greek chorus, Everyone Says I Love You had its musical numbers, and Deconstructing Harry has its crossover characters."
-Ruthe Stein for the San Francisco Chrionicle wrote: "Allen insists in interviews that he's not Harry (and his wedding Tuesday to Soon-Yi Previn seems to emphasize that he has settled down). But the extent to which Harry resembles Allen doesn't really matter. (Actually Harry is more like autobiographical novelist Philip Roth, who is said to be going out with Mia Farrow -- best not to think too much about the implications of that.) Lots of people have screwed- up lives, but that doesn't make them artists. In "Deconstructing Harry," Allen proves, if anybody had any doubts, that he is."
-Deconstructing Harry is the sort of movie that invites extreme reactions, and already it's made a few "10 best" and "10 worst" lists. It probably doesn't deserve to be on either: It's too original to be awful and too contrived to be great. I also suspect a lot of people will ultimately think--and they may be right--that Allen is just doing a half-hearted mea culpa and begging us to forgive him because he's a serious artist. All of that aside, Deconstructing Harry is a hilarious black comedy, with more visual energy than any Allen movie in a decade, and a confluence of sharp one-liners that flow as much from character as from situations. (Lately Allen's gags have often felt more manufactured than organic.) 
-Here’s a guy who had been blasted in the press for sexual deviancy,” said Neil Rosen. “Instead of defending himself, he said ‘Look, I pay hookers, I’m everything they said I was.’ He’s not an idiot, he knew parallels would be drawn between Harry and himself. But he didn’t back away. That was very courageous.” 
-This movie got Woody Allen yet another Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination. 
-Deconstructing Harry has a 73% Rotten Tomatoes rating as of 2021.