Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Woody Allen, an acquired taste

From, left, director Val Waxman, played by Woody Allen, tries to describe what he envisions for the next scene to Barney Cheng, Téa Leoni and George Hamilton in Hollywood Ending.

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Read Billy's movie reviews on his special archive page.

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 13, 2002

Movie: Hollywood Ending

  • Rating: PG-13

Summary: Val Waxman (Woody Allen) is a washed-up movie director whose career is going down the drain because he is difficult to work with and he's a hypochondriac. His ex-wife, Ellie (Tea Leoni), is now engaged to one of Hollywood's leading studio executives, Hal Yeager (Treat Williams), who happens to be searching for the right director for his newest project -- a film entitled The City That Never Sleeps. Ellie realizes Val is the right man for the job and convinces her reluctant fiance to hire him. On the first day of production, Val inexplicably loses his sight. It is soon determined that his blindness is caused by stress and is only temporary, but with his career on the line, he knows he must go on directing the film with as few people as possible knowing of his disability. So, enlisting the help of a few trusted friends, he fumbles his way through it, but not without consequences.

My View (which also includes my least favorite part): Since this is only the second Woody Allen film I've seen, I guess I'm still getting used to his odd approach to filmmaking. His films have a weird effect on me. Normally, for some reason or other, my first impression isn't very good, but when I rethink the movie I realize that it was actually better than I thought. This happened to me with The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and also seems to have occurred here. Despite that, I was still a little disappointed. I expected this movie to be totally slapstick and off-the-wall funny, but it wasn't. Don't get me wrong, Hollywood Ending did have its funny moments -- Woody Allen's physical comedy and his totally nervous personality provided these -- but it just wasn't the hilarious movie I was expecting. Overall it was above average, but definitely not great.

Favorite Part: One thing I appreciated was that this whole film was a satire of the Hollywood style of movie production. Woody Allen is 100 percent New Yorker and likes to make all his films set in, and about, New York. His passion for the Big Apple is apparent in this and all his films, and I think that's pretty cool.

Recommendations: This isn't a movie for young kids, and it is probably not something that would interest most teens. No, it's not because of profanity, or the little bit of sensuality included. I just think Woody Allen films are best appreciated by his devoted fans, or people who are accustomed to his style.

Grade: B

-- Billy Norris, 14, is in the eighth grade at Seminole Middle School, and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

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