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Hollywood Ending is a 2002 American film written and directed by Woody Allen, who also plays the principal character. It tells the story of a once-famous film director who suffers hysterical blindness due to the intense pressure of directing.

Cast (in order of appearance)



Plot outline

Val Waxman (Allen) is a one-time prestigious film director lately reduced to overseeing cheesy television commercials in order to pay his bills and support his current live-in girlfriend (Messing). When he is thrown off his latest effort (a deodorant commercial being filmed in the frozen north), he desperately seeks a real movie project.

Out of the blue, Waxman receives a offer to direct a big-budget blockbuster movie to be set in New York Citymarker. However, the offer comes from his former wife (Leoni) and her current boyfriend (Williams), the studio head who stole his wife from Waxman several years ago.

Pushed by his agent (Rydell), Waxman agrees to the project, but a psychosomatic ailment strikes him blind just before production is set to begin. The movie plays out with an aging director struggling to regain his vision, both metaphorically and literally. It is easy to envision the movie as a not-so-subtle metaphor for Allen's real-life struggles during the 1990s to regain (or retain) his early momentum in the film-making milieu.

Note: Treat Williams's role as a studio head might be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the actor's previous one as Hollywood superagent Michael Ovitz in The Late Shift.

This is not the first film to use the gag of a blind film director. Terror Firmer, a Troma film directed by Lloyd Kaufman in 1999, had Kaufman also performing in the role of the director of a film-within-a-film (the entire production itself referencing several previous Troma films spanning Kaufman's career) and is also blind throughout the whole film (with many related sight gags and gaffes).

Reception

The film received mixed reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film received 47% positive reviews, based on 130 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 46 out of 100, based on 37 reviews.

The film was a failure in American theaters, with ticket sales under $5 million. As with most later Woody Allen films, it had more success internationally, with a worldwide gross of $14.6 million (oddly mirroring the plot of the film).

It was screened out of competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

In the United Kingdom, it was the first of Allen's films not to receive a theatrical release.

Film critic Bryant Frazer thinks it suffers from poor editing. He writes, "What's most frustrating is the sense that Hollywood Ending could have been quite a bit better than it actually is. At 114 minutes, it's decisively lacking in the brevity that used to characterize Allen's pictures -- even the super-serious, Bergman-inspired stuff. Worse, his timing seems to be off -- the filmmaker who was once notorious for cutting his films to the absolute bone now gives us rambling, overlong shots featuring performers who almost seem to be ad libbing their dialogue. I ran to the Internet Movie Database to investigate, and discovered what may be the problem - Susan Morse is gone. Morse, the editor who had worked with Allen since Manhattanmarker in 1979 and who turned into a real soldier by the time of the jazzy montage that characterized Deconstructing Harry, was reportedly a victim of budget-cutting within the ranks."

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