ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  woody allen

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  114 minutes

RELEASED  -  3 may 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  dreamworks

OFFICIAL SITE  -  hollywood ending

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $16,000,000
hollywood ending - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from hollywood ending at

buy the dvd from hollywood ending at

about a once-famous film director who finds on his latest job that he has gone temporarily blind.

woody allen writes and directs all his films.


picture from frida

picture from frida

picture from frida


two out of four possible stars

Hollywood Ending will never be considered on of Woody Allen's best, but it is an improvement upon his last picture, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. It is hard to say what is missing from these recent pictures that allowed his earlier films to gain him such acclaim. Perhaps the tried and true Woody Allen shtick has been around for too long. Perhaps his casting decisions weren't on target. Whatever the reason, Woody Allen's career is currently just humming along, but not creating any real cinematic waves. Can it be that the self-deprecating Woody Allen has lost his comedic touch?

In pictures such as Mighty Aphrodite, which picked up an Academy Award, was he able to just assemble the right cast? Or is Woody Allen no longer a sympathetic loser? For years, we the audience members have hoped and prayed that whatever was ailing Allen in his current film would right itself by the end. It wasn't hard to like his performances or laugh at his jokes. But somehow, Allen's projects have become strained in the past few years. It's like he's updated his films for the new millennium, but he doesn't belong in them. Granted, he made some terrific films in the eighties and even in the nineties, but Allen has tried unsuccessfully in his last four or so films to be an updated version of himself.

He is most successful when he forgets the mainstream and makes films resembling his own "golden era. But Hollywood Ending is Woody Allen updated, and for whatever reason, the film just isn't as funny and isn't as well made as his earlier works. Something has got to change in Woody Allen's next project. He doesn't necessarily need a refresher course on filmmaking, but more change in the type of comedy he brings to the screen. He doesn't need to go mainstream, in fact, that would probably spell doom for Allen, but he needs to put some additional creative effort into the creation of his films.

Hollywood Ending is an example of Woody Allen "doing his thing." The characters surrounding him do not mesh as well as some of his earlier projects. Though his portrayal of "Woody Allen" onscreen is still, much of the time, the best entertainment in the film. And also good entertainment are the young women who play Allen's various amours. Since he has aged, his female co-stars have actually regressed in age, so that the women playing his wives or girlfriends look to be about half his age. But it's hard to complain about something which has become an Allen standard, so perhaps the best criticism of the situation wouldn't be a criticism at all.

As strange as it sounds, Téa Leoni, playing Allen's ex-wife, does have some chemistry with him. Even though she towers over him in height, they make a good couple on screen. Much better, in fact, than his relationship in Scorpion with Helen Hunt. It would still be interesting to see how Allen would interact in a film with a woman closer to his own age. Allen himself certainly hasn't found the fountain of youth, but it seems like all his female co-stars have.

The other actors in this film, who include Debra Messing, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, George Hamilton, and Treat Williams have their moments, but no one really shines in his or her role. As usual, this is a Woody Allen picture, and focusing on his performance is probably a good idea. The story of this picture, that has Allen playing a washed-up director who finally gets another break, only to go psychosomatically blind, is an intriguing one, but probably could have been handled with more ingenuity. The inside jokes about the production process in Hollywood don't have the bite or intelligence of past satires like The Player or Postcards from the Edge.

Most of the comedy about the film industry on this film comes from the pig-headed attitude of Treat's studio executive character. But watching a studio executive act like an ass can be entertaining for only so long. And really, none of his scenes were that hilarious. No, most of the funny in this movie comes from Woody Allen himself. He still have comic talent, he just seems to be having a hard time finding a proper outlet for it. Woody Allen might have had a successful career as a stand-up comedian. But some of his ability comes from being able to construct an entertaining movie out of what is, essentially a couple of hours of Woody Allen's speeches. Sometimes, he gets the formula right. But in Hollywood Ending, the elements just aren't there. Woody Allen needs to find the magic that once made him the talented filmmaker that millions of people loved to watch make a fool out of himself.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content © 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs © dreamworks 2002
home | archive | ratings | links | photographs | about | contact