Hollywood Ending

Review Date:
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Producers: Letty Aronson
Woody Allen as Val, Tea Leoni as Eli, Treat Williams as Hal
A has-been director gets the opportunity to direct a huge new movie when his ex-wife convinces the studio head, who also happens to have stolen her away from him a few years back, to give him another shot. Unfortunately for the filmmaker, he goes blind a day before shooting is about to start (a psychosomatic condition), but not wanting to quit on his big chance, he decides to try and fool everyone into believing that he can still see fine and that all is well on the film. Kookiness ensues.
I say this in most of my Woody Allen movie reviews, but I’ll repeat it once again, in case you’re not aware, but basically…I love this man! I also know that there are essentially two schools of thought on the Woodster, one of which digs him like me and the other which basically doesn’t like him at all. With that being said, this film continues Woody’s steady decline into a world of mediocre Allen movies, which started about halfway through the 90s and continues to this day. I personally think that Woody should take more than a year to bang out his films because they aren’t as original, funny or dramatically engaging as they used to be. Having said that, this is still a pretty entertaining movie for what it is, with a funny premise, many pokes at the Hollywood establishment, hilarious one-liners from Allen himself and a very clever last scene, which makes you kind of forgive the movie’s second half which relies almost entirely on a not-so-funny “blind” scenario. In fact, much like in his previous cinematic installment, CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION, it seems as though Allen’s recent crop of films start strong but finish weak.

This one actually surprised me with how it completely pulled me into its shenanigans early on, with lots of industry insight, great performances from everyone involved (the back-and-forths between Allen and Leoni were tops) and the typically cozy atmosphere from most Allen flicks (groovy soundtrack, nice visuals, etc…). But as soon as he went blind, it basically took a turn for the unbelievable and “goofy” humor, which just wasn’t up to par with what I was used to, and with how the film started (some scenes were also stretched beyond their limited appeal-edit, baby, edit!). Watching Allen talking to a couch as Treat Williams sat on the other side of him wasn’t funny, it was contrived (even if you’re blind, you would still be able to hear the person sitting next to you…it doesn’t make sense, and lost me). Although I will admit that his affectation did bring up one of the funnier dialogue exchanges so far this year– Val: “I can’t direct a movie, I’m blind!” Al: “Have you seen some of the pictures out there?”). But blindness aside, the movie still worked for the most part with Mark Rydell as Allen’s agent really coming through, as well as Debra Messing, who I can watch simply picking her nose all day and still fall in love. Tea Leoni and Treat Williams also did okay, but neither especially blew me away. As for Tiffany Amber-Thiessen, well, I just thank God that she has massive breasts and that she is more than happy to showcase them in every other film (in a bra, of course). Thank you!

George Hamilton was also very funny, but his part was too small (we needed more of him, dammit!). As for the “love” angle between Allen and Leoni, well, I can’t say that I really bought it entirely, but it was cute and it certainly gave the film something to work with. So am I recommending this movie or not? Well, I enjoyed it overall, but not as much as I was hoping I would. It’s got plenty of laughs, most of which take place during the first half, it loses its footing once Allen goes blind about half-way through, but as a whole, still managed to keep my interest thanks to the witty one-liners, and the fact that it was all about the movie industry in the first place (which always interests me). I would probably recommend that most people check it out on video if not all that interested in Woody or the premise, but if either one nudges you in a positive way, I would suggest that you see it in theatres and experience what the funniest man at this year’s Oscars has come up with this year. And once again, I find myself looking forward to Mr. Allen’s next oeuvre (love them French, eh Woody?) Oh and by the way, the Canadian jokes were hilarious as well…in fact, I’m going to feed my moose as we speak. Hehehe.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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