Let's get something straight: We're not saying Alvy's mad in the King-Lear-dashing-into-a-storm sense. He's not crazy; he's neurotic—which is a fancy way of saying he's one seriously stressed-out dude who has trouble rolling with the punches.
Let's take a sec to run down the list of neurosis symptoms: negativity and cynicism? Sure sounds like a certain stand-up comedian we know. Impulsive behavior? Alvy winds up in jail after he tears his driver's license up in a cop's face. Anxiety? Why, that's practically Alvy's middle name. Habitual fantasizing? The dude seeks relationship advice from a police horse.
In short, Alvy's neurotic disorder not only powers his personality and his actions, but also impacts his relationships, and that's what makes madness central to Annie Hall.
Questions About Madness
When it comes to relationships, is Alvy controlling?
Annie claims that she could help Alvy have more fun if he let her. Do you think she really could?
How do Alvy's fantasies help him cope with his anxiety?
Chew on This
Alvy's neuroses ultimately drive Annie away.
"Neurotic" is just a politer way of saying that Alvy's self-centered.