My soft spot for the behind the scenes workings of preparing a movie, added onto the huge adoration I have for Woody Allen’s work, is probably why Hollywood Ending works so well for me. But even for someone so invested in this specific mashup of genre and character, Hollywood Ending struggles to make a name for itself outside of being another late stage Allen film. Relying more on the status of his name, rather than that of his talent as his earlier films do, it’s a shift in tone that will take some getting used to. For the most part though, it works adamantly well.
A handful of golden lines litter Hollywood Ending’s interesting premise. A down on his luck film director hits a lucky break when his ex-wife asks him to direct a big budget Hollywood feature. His luck runs dry however when he finds himself temporarily blind, and must direct the film without the ability to see.
It’s a definitely interesting plot, and it’s nice to see that Allen runs as well as he can with such a concept. A rare outing where he both stars and directs in his later years, we get to see just why his films work best when he is both at the centre of the action and also the one creating it with his sweepingly simple camera angles. His lack of ingenuity and intrigue here makes Hollywood Ending feel like a standard product of the early 2000s, something that could’ve been slapped together by just about anyone.
What surprises me most is just how forgettable it all is. No real standout performers appear, aside from Allen we have the impressive nothingness of George Hamilton and Tea Leoni. Leoni has featured in some mediocre pieces of film, and has pretty much dropped off of the map entirely. Maybe it’s due to films like this and Tower Heist that she has retired to a respectable career in television. Either way, no performance here is worth the watch, there is absolutely nothing of interest. A genuine shame too, especially given the great detail presented to us in the script.
Hollywood Ending nods at the fourth wall occasionally, piecing itself together as a moderately competent, ill forgotten outing of Allen’s latter day years. There are splattering‘s of his earlier works, with the twinkly eyed love of New York as found in Manhattan, alongside the pacing‘s of Annie Hall and montage shots like no other. A modernisation of his own work, and a tepid takedown of Hollywood culture, Allen flounders through his forgettable work of the early 2000s, with expectedly benign and middling output.