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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look: 26.09%
Pretty Bad: 13.04%
Total Crap: 4.35%

2 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Hollywood Ending
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by EricDSnider

"Bad only when compared to what Woody Allen USED to do."
3 stars

Woody Allen continues his descent into comedic toothlessness with "Hollywood Ending," a weak-willed but likable film that should have been brilliant.

It is a parody of movie-making, and Woody Allen is capable of writing and directing a magnificent one. Judged on its own merits, "Hollywood Ending" is good enough, but you can't help feeling disappointed, knowing what might have been (and especially having seen Allen's last few films, all as impotent as this one).

Allen plays himself, really: a neurotic, Oscar-winning filmmaker whom no one takes seriously anymore. His name is Val Waxman, and having fallen on hard times, he is reduced to pursuing TV movies like "the interracial abortion gene-splicing thing." His ex-wife, Ellie (Tea Leoni), now dating a studio head (Treat Williams), talks the studio into hiring Val to direct a new film -- making his ex-wife's boyfriend his boss. But oh well. Work is work.

This might be enough complication for one movie, but Allen takes it a step further: The night before shooting is to begin, Val comes down with a psychosomatic case of blindness. His agent (Mark Rydell) convinces him to direct the film anyway, using his cinematographer's Chinese translator (Barney Cheng) as a guide to prevent people from knowing he can't see. If someone comes up to Val and says, "Should we use this one or the bigger one?," the guide can casually say, "Oh, what nice pocketwatches," cuing Val on what's being held up in front of him so he can offer an opinion.

It's a stretch, but credit Allen for knowing how to direct a movie in a way that is believable, avoiding most of the traps that would have turned this into a farce. (One quibble: Val apparently can't even tell which direction people's voices are coming from, which doesn't make sense at all.)

There are many Hollywood-insider gags -- like an art director who feels the real Times Square isn't good enough and wants to build a set instead -- and there are plenty of jokes at the expense of agents. Some hit, some miss.

The reason for Val's blindness is surprisingly lame and unnecessary, as is the romantic subplot. (Do you think Val and Ellie will rekindle their love? It is called "Hollywood Ending," after all.)

But then there's the charm. Allen shot the film as a series of scenes: No cutting away, no fancy editing, just a camera that follows the characters around the room. It's a very non-movie-ish movie about making movies. Pretty sly, Mr. Allen.

And there are some deep, wonderful laughs. Not enough to make this a great comedy, but enough to make it a pleasant one. Allen can do better, and has done better, but perhaps this is as good as he does anymore.

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originally posted: 05/10/02 07:26:05
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User Comments

8/15/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen If they had just edited out about fifteen or twenty minutes... 4 stars
5/31/05 John Aster Habig I'd give it a better rating but i can't remember the ending i saw it about a year ago 4 stars
7/22/03 Monster W. Kung One of Allen's worst movies ever. 2 stars
6/18/03 Andrew Callaway Not Woody Allen's best... but very good. Woody has made better pictures. 4 stars
5/19/03 George Jung Gets better after every viewing. Amazing film. 5 stars
3/27/03 Jack Sommersby The creative well really ran dry this time around. Pathetic and boring. 1 stars
10/25/02 Sal Bitsvonka Entertainingly pleasant and surprisingly funny at times, though indeed, too tame 4 stars
6/28/02 Natalie Stonecipher Woody makes good comeback after mediocrity of CURSE OF JADE SCORPION. 4 stars
5/25/02 Film Guy Hollywood is ending if they keep leting Woody Allen make movies 2 stars
5/11/02 Kyle So THAT'S why Woody doesn't make many movies anymore... 2 stars
5/11/02 Mister Char I enjoyed it, good jokes, great ending (making fun of the french!!!) 4 stars
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  03-May-2002 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Woody Allen

Written by
  Woody Allen

  Woody Allen
  Téa Leoni
  Debra Messing
  Treat Williams
  Erica Leerhsen
  George Hamilton

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