Well I have finally arrived at the worst stage in Woody Allen's career. The early 2000s must not have been easy for Woody Allen as he gave us his three weakest efforts in a row: The Curose of the Jade Scorpion (2001), Hollywood Ending (2002) and Anything Else (2003). All three films suffer from an extreme lack of focus, poorly written screenplays and less than inspired acting.
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is the only Woody Allen film that I had ever hated. It tells the story of an insurance investigator, CW Briggs (Allen), and an efficiency expert, Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt), whose distaste for each other leads them to be hypnotized by a magician (David Ogden Stiers) who uses them to steal jewels. The film costars Dan Aykroyd, Elizabeth Berkeley, Wallace Shawn and Charlize Theron. Helen Hunt may have won an Oscar (As Good as it Gets) and multiply Emmys (Mad About You), but she is the weakest actor in this film and it is quite disappointing.
The problem with Hollywood Ending is that it Woody Allen pokes fun at himself the whole time and it is never clever enough for a Woody Allen film. The film gets stalled with sight gags and the unbelievable relationship between Woody Allen and Tea Leoni.
Val Waxman (Allen) is a former A-list director trying to restart his career. After being fired from a deodorant commercial and wondering how he will support his girlfriend (Debra Messing) he gets an offer to direct a big budget movie set in New York. The only catch is that his ex-wife (Leoni) and her boyfriend (Treat Williams) will be producing the film. Just as shooting is set to begin Val goes blind and attempts to make the movie without anyone finding out.
There are a lot of metaphors in Hollywood Ending in regards to Woody Allen's own career that do not work. There are some moments and scenes that feel forced and the editing is questionable.
My concern with Anything Else is the decision to cast Jason Biggs. I have never thought him to be an incredibly talented actor and often find most his roles too juvenile, which is the exact issue in Anything Else. I also think that Christina Ricci's role is too one-dimensional and Stockard Channing is too underused.
Jerry Falk (Biggs) is an aspiring writer who falls in love at first sight with Amanda (Ricci). The problem is that Jerry has a girlfriend and Amanda is dating Jerry's friend (Jimmy Fallon). The film is narrated by Biggs and the film goes back and forth between past and future. Jerry begins to suspect problems in his relationship with Amanda and turns to Dobel (Allen), a teacher who works part time as a comic writer, for advice.
Anything Else tries to use Jason Biggs as the Woody Allen archetype but he does not have the maturity or the skill for the role, even with a mediocre screenplay. The only highlight of the film is the cameo appearance by the incredible Diana Krall.
Next up: Melinda and Melinda.
1. Hannah and Her Sisters
2. Everyone Says I Love You
4. Bullets over Broadway
5. Annie Hall
6. Crimes and Misdemeanors
7. Radio Days
8. Husbands & Wives
9. Another Woman
10. The Purple Rose of Cairo
11. Broadway Danny Rose
12. Love and Death
13. Sweet and Lowdown
14. Mighty Aphrodite
17. Manhattan Murder Mystery
19. Stardust Memories
20. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
21. Take the Money and Run
22. Deconstructing Harry
23. Oedipus Wrecks from New York Stories
25. Small Time Crooks
26. What's Up, Tiger Lily?
28. Shadows and Fog
29. Don't Drink the Water
31. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
33. Hollywood Ending
34. Anything Else
35. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion