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Film / Hollywood Ending

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Hollywood Ending is a 2002 American comedy film written by, directed by and starring Woody Allen, with a supporting cast that includes Téa Leoni, George Hamilton, Treat Williams, Debra Messing, and Tiffani Thiessen.

Val Waxman (Allen) is a once-prestigious film director who's lately reduced to overseeing cheesy television commercials in order to pay his bills. After seeking for a "real" movie project, Val receives an offer from his ex-wife Ellie (Leoni) on behalf of her current boyfriend, studio executive Hal (Williams), to direct a big-budget blockbuster. Val agrees to the project, but when he is struck with a sudden bout of hysterical blindness just before production is to begin, he's forced to keep his condition a secret from the cast, crew, and Hal.

This film provides examples of:

  • Casting Couch: Subverted, in that the buxom lead actress wants to sleep with Val because he's a great director (a fact which Val advises she advertise in the DGA Guide). Lori, meanwhile, is only sleeping with Val to get roles, and is more than happy to break up with him — just so long as she doesn't lose the part in his movie.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The title of the film comes from Val enjoying a "Hollywood ending" of his own: he regains his sight after rekindling his relationship with Ellie and reconnecting with his estranged son Tony, and while his movie flopped in the US, it is a hit in France.
  • Film Noir: The Show Within a Show is a neo-noir film set in The '40s.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-universe, the movie Val shot while blind totally bombs in the US... but turns out to be a surprise hit overseas, especially in France. After winning Ellie back, he happily proclaims, "Thank God the French exist".
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Invoked when Lori, played by Debra Messing of all people, complains she's getting fat as an actress; her waistline is 25".
  • Le Film Artistique: Val apparently ends up making one of these accidentally: He was blind while directing it. The American critics hate it, but the French love it.
  • Literal Metaphor: Val is aghast at the final product of the film, exclaiming it's like a blind man directed it — which it literally was.
  • Secret-Keeper: Only Ellie and the translator (played by Barney Cheng) knows Val is blind. Unfortunately, Ellie can't be on set, and the translator knows nothing about filmmaking, so can't help Val artistically.
  • Show Within a Show: The big-budget blockbuster movie that Val has to direct while blind.
  • Temporary Blindness: Val suffers a bout of hysterical blindness just before production of his movie is about to begin. He eventually regains his sight at end of the movie.
  • Working with the Ex: Val receives the offer to direct the movie from his former wife, Ellie. They reconcile at the end of the movie.