Retro Review: Hollywood Ending

This is Woody Allen’s third film for DreamWorks and it seems that Woody keeps getting funnier.

This time Woody plays a washed-up, hypochondriac film director named Val Waxman who is utterly desperate for the comeback of his life.

Waxman’s quirks boil over when his comeback comes from a place he least expected, his ex-wife Ellie (Tea Leoni). Ellie wants Waxman to head up a picture called “The City that Never Sleeps” which is to be produced by studio head, Hal (Treat Williams).

Hal also happens to be the man Ellie left Val for. Friction, comedy and the quest for re-kindled love is all apart of the magic of Woody Allen. “Hollywood Ending” has all those grand Woody elements.

“Hollywood Ending” is probably Woody’s funniest picture in quite some time. You will still be giggling when you emerge from the multiplex. I laughed myself silly at some of the great writing and punch lines that litter this film.

It is definitely true that Woody is getting to old to be locking lips with women like Tea Leoni, Tiffani Theissen and Debra Messing (of TV’s Will & Grace) on screen. But in this film and throughout his film career he has always had love interests with women half or quarter his age.

Matter of a fact, it’s been the case on and off screen. I would like to see Woody do a film like this one with a younger man taking over his kind of role. That way maybe Woody’s brilliant writing can be exposed to a new generation. Woody embracing an alter-ego could be as great as when Richard Dreyfuss embodied Steven Spielberg in his earlier films.

I really liked Tea Leoni in this film as she played sort of the Diane Keaton role of earlier Woody films. Leoni is such a great talent and she really needs a good comedy like this to showcase her natural comedic timing. She is beautiful and hilarious.

Debra Messing is also a riot in her smaller scenes. She plays the daft girlfriend of Woody’s character to a tee. I loved Messing in the comedy series “Ned & Stacey” and I knew she would always get that Hollywood chance. She definitely has potential to break the barrier between TV and film.

What is sort interesting is that there are three characters in this film with almost the same name. The three characters are Val (played by Woody), Hal (played by Treat Williams, and Val’s agent Al (played by Mark Rydell). It is surprising that some of the cast members didn’t get confused or tongue-tied at this.

If this film wasn’t as smartly written as it is there probably would be a lot of problems with the slapstick plots and loose storyline. It seems that audiences are only getting smarter and it’s getting harder to make people laugh. But only Woody Allen could put together a little comedy gem like this.

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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