But let's see how far I get, shall we?
I think that if this were directed by almost any other director, I might be inclined to accept your "carefully crafted to appeal to our pseudo-intellectual selves" comment. But, in my limited experience with Allen, I have never gotten the impression of pretension from him. At least not deliberate pretension. I tend to see his filmmaking as genuine, even if it is from a perspective that a minority of Americans can relate to. But the reason he has been so successful despite this is that he makes that perspective accessible and relatable (somehow--but who knows how? It's a part of his gift) to a pretty wide audience. Like I said, I didn't get all the references. I have the most basic knowledge of the famous characters Gil interacts with, which was why the exaggerated portrayals were not just funny but helpful to some degree. If you had never heard of Hemingway (God help you), you would still find his character entertaining. If anything, the film does the opposite of what you claim because of this. Had I indeed never heard of Hemingway, might I be inclined to pick up one of his books after having seen the movie, curious about the man's writing because of the entertaining and accessible way in which he was portrayed?
Does every movie need to be challenging? Isn't it okay to simply remind us of a simple but timeless message--that there's no time like the present? And in a way that's lighthearted and fun? I'd prefer Allen's message any day to any of those taken from a couple dozen of your most popular romantic comedies of the last ten years combined.
Lighten up, John. Rodin's wife was Rose. I'm sure of it. I read it in a two-volume biography the other day.