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"Hollywood Ending"

Directed by Woody Allen.
Written by Woody Allen. 
Starring Woody Allen, Téa Leoni and Treat Williams.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  5/20/02 


So, my friend Danielle asked me to join her for a free showing of the upcoming Oscar Wilde adaptation “The Importance of Being Earnest.”  We got there in time, but because there were (naturally) more free passes than seats, we didn’t get in.  So, we walked back down to the box office, and tried to get tickets for “About a Boy.”  That one sold out just before we got to the counter.  The only movie left at this theater that I hadn’t already seen was “Hollywood Ending”, so of course I said to Danielle,

“Y’all wanna hang out?  I’ll hang out!”

But, I should have seen the writing on the wall when the projectionist accidentally cut off the trailers leading into the film by shutting down the screen.  When things got up and running, Woody Allen’s worst film got underway.

Wow, what a fucking piece of fucking shit.  (Yes, I am allowed to use the same profanity twice in the same sentence.)  Friends, I think we need to look at Allen’s last few films, and sum up exactly what it is about his last few movies...say, since “Bullets Over Broadway”, the last film of his that most people seemed to like.

There is too much Woody Allen in them!

For those of you that don’t know me, I am not a neurotic Jew from New York City.  I had a very interesting conversation with my friend Alexandra last week—herself, an admittedly slightly neurotic Jew from New York City—and she pointed out how much she loves Allen’s films.  We both decided that sometimes, it helps to be like Allen to like his style of “acting”, if one can call it that, because it is so one-dimensional.  Alexandra noted that she knows people like Allen, and can see where non-Jewish non-Brooklynites could be turned off by this style.

Count me in!  Woody is in so much of “Hollywood Ending” that Danielle said after the movie that his performance almost required her to drink alcohol to soothe the pain, because watching Woody waltz around a room worrying about some annoying detail in the text is just flat-out exhausting.  The shaking hands, the head bobbing, the stuttering, the whole bit, is just plain worn out.  Allen has acted in and directed more than 30 films and he has played himself in ALL of them...and, while this might work for Schwarzenegger, who has some screen presence, it is just boring to watch Allen do it over and over.  Last I checked, he is not a great actor...but, he continually writes films that feature more and more of HIM, and why?

In doing so, Allen eliminates the two things that he has always had going for him:  an excellent ensemble cast, and a piercing, hilarious script.

The cast here in “Hollywood Ending” is so shameful that it instantly evokes pity.  Tea Leoni, who I will grant you IS hot, is not an actress, plain and simple.  Her best film work is still “Bad Boys” and that is because she was wearing a ridiculously-tiny mini-skirt while firing a Glock.  So, she and Allen have about 50% of the screen time.  Treat Williams (star of such classics as “The Phantom” and “The Substitute 3: The Winner Takes All”) is one of America’s favorite B-actors...paired with no-brainer George Hamilton, you are almost waiting to see Ernest Borgnine pop out of a closet or Betty White serve breakfast to one of the main characters.  Seriously, this cast is embarrassing.  Sure, Debra Messing shows up as Allen’s current airhead girlfriend, but the part is a throwaway and clearly Messing wanted to have “acted with Woody Allen” somewhere on her résumé.

This already strapped-for-cash ensemble is further hampered by a script that is so unfunny that I started to doze off four different times during this movie.  You will see tumbleweed blow by your feet during this film.  This is probably because Allen is telling most of the “jokes” and because Leoni couldn’t deliver a pizza, let alone a decent line.  The plot, which involves formerly-great film director Val (Allen) and his attempts to direct a New York-based drama, almost eerily mirrors Allen’s own career, which is part of the irony of the film in the first place.  By suffering through some sort of temporary blindness, Val must direct the film without being able to see, so with the help of his producer/ex-wife (Leoni), he tries to pull off some magic.

The script is dumb, but worse, it is implausible; forget the blindness bit or the fact that the studio head backing the $60 million movie-in-the-movie production (Williams) doesn’t even bother watching the dailies for the film...


Danielle and I talked about this part after the film.  Why does Allen continuously subject us smart, decent Americans to scenes where women talk about how much they want to make love to a 70-year-old rat?  Not in this whole universe would one believe that Tiffany Thiessen (in a cameo) would want to get slippery with a guy that is ugly as sin!!!  Why would I ever believe that Allen would be able to keep Leoni around because “the sex was good”, as he comments during a scene in the film?  Come on!  I’m dumb, but I’m not a damned idiot.

Wow.  How does Allen continue to get backing for these films?  His films NEVER make any money.  They never seem to garner much critical appeal, although for some odd reason, “Mighty Aphrodite” nabbed an undeserving Mira Sorvino a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  In short, the man is floating on reputation, and this is a dangerous thing for us, the moviegoing public.  Hopefully, his film next year (he makes one every year like clockwork) will be better than this horseshit.

Rating:  Hard Vice


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09