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(2002) (Woody Allen, Téa Leoni) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate None Moderate None Minor
Moderate None None None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Minor Mild Mild Minor

Comedy: A down on his luck director goes blind after being hired by his ex-wife and tries to helm his comeback picture without letting anyone know he can't see anything.
Val Waxman (WOODY ALLEN) is a former Oscar-winning director whose reputation for being difficult to work with and lack of crafting a recent hit has left him ostracized in Hollywood. Now living with Lori (DEBRA MESSING), a much younger and aspiring actress, he's been reduced to filming commercials in Canada, but can't even keep that job.

Fortunately for him, Ellie (TÉA LEONI), his ex-wife and current movie producer, still has faith in his moviemaking abilities and is trying to convince her Galaxie Studio cohorts, Hal (TREAT WILLIAMS) and Ed (GEORGE HAMILTON), that Val would be perfect for their latest, big budget film, "The City That Never Sleeps."

They're naturally reluctant, as is Val when his agent, Al (MARK RYDELL), informs him of the possible gig. For Val, the situation is more complicated due to Ellie having left him for Hal who runs the studio that's to employ him. Nevertheless, and realizing it could be his last shot at making a feature film, Val decides to do it, while Ellie has convinced Hal and Ed that things will go smoothly.

Not surprisingly, they don't. Beyond the Chinese cinematographer who requires a translator, the production designer with expensive tastes in sets, and a lead actress, Sharon Bates (TIFFANI THIESSEN), who comes on to him, Val suddenly goes blind the night before the first day of shooting.

The doctors and psychiatrists agree that it's psychosomatic and probably related to Val's estranged relationship with his young adult son, Tony (MARK WEBBER), but Al persuades Val that he must continue and not let anyone know of his sudden malady. From that point on, Val tries to direct the film that he can't see, all while attempting to keep that a secret from everyone else and dealing with the various complications that ensue.

Unless they're fans of Allen, his films, or someone else in the cast, it doesn't seem very likely.
For some drug references and sexual material.
  • WOODY ALLEN plays a neurotic and hypochondriacal director who's fallen on hard times but gets his chance at a comeback. Still obsessed with his ex-wife leaving him, he attempts to direct a film while psychosomatically blind.
  • TÉA LEONI plays his ex-wife who left him some time ago for Hal, but still has faith in his moviemaking abilities. Not only does she get him his latest gig, but she also helps keep his blindness secret from others.
  • DEBRA MESSING plays Val's somewhat ditsy live-in girlfriend who's only interested in getting a part in Val's movie.
  • MARK RYDELL plays Val's hands on agent who persuades him that he must direct the film despite being blind.
  • TREAT WILLIAMS plays the head of the studio that hires Val. Married to his ex-wife, he becomes suspicious of her and is intoxicated in one scene.
  • GEORGE HAMILTON plays one of his close associates.
  • MARK WEBBER plays Val's punk rocker son who smokes and helps Val get his mind straight.
  • TIFFANI THIESSEN plays an actress in the film who comes on to Val.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this comedy that's been rated PG-13. Sexually related dialogue is present in several scenes, while a scantily clad actress offers her sexual favors to her male director (he nervously declines) and some other women wear somewhat revealing clothing.

    Profanity consists of a few expletives, while some religious and colorful phrases are also present, as are some references to drug use. Some characters drink, some smoke, and some bad attitudes are present as is some tense family material (a divorced couple and a father's estranged relationship with his young adult son).

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • Val tells Al that he took pills that had speed in them, then took other pills to bring him back down, and is now taking pills to speed him back up again.
  • Some people drink beer at a party.
  • Ellie has wine while Val has a beer.
  • Various people drink wine.
  • Al and his family have wine.
  • Hal pours some Irish whiskey for Val and himself.
  • After a ceremony, Ellie tells Hal that he's drunk (he says a little, she says a lot). She then comments on it being no wonder that they drink so much at such ceremonies and we see him with a drink in his hand.
  • People have drinks at a party.
  • Val's young adult son mentions that he was high on acid and peyote when he pushed his father down the steps in the past (not seen), and that he picked up his drug habit from Val (and all of the tranquilizers he was on). The son does mention, however, that those days are over.
  • Ellie and Val have wine.
  • None.
  • Val keeps saying that Ellie had an affair (with Hal) while married to him (Val), but we never know if that's true.
  • Various white lies occur during the film, such as Ellie telling Hal that things are going smoothly with Val and the shoot, while Val, Al and a translator and others keep Val's blindness secret from others.
  • Some viewers may take offense at the film's portrayal of blindness as a joke/running gag in the film (with Val looking in the wrong direction when people talk to him, stumbling and falling, etc.).
  • Ellie has a bit of a condescending attitude toward Lori (but not in her presence).
  • Al carelessly calls a Chinese man named Chow "Ching," and upon hearing Chinese words (while blind), Val asks who ordered carry out.
  • Hal breaks his promise to Val and watches some of the dailies (clips of the unfinished film).
  • None.
  • Prop machine gun: Seen carried by an actor on the set.
  • Phrases: "Nuts" (crazy), "You're damn right," "Jerk," "Jeez," "How the hell do I know?" and "What the hell does that mean?"
  • Lori wears some midriff-revealing tops and pants that are extremely low-cut.
  • Val's young adult son looks like something of a punk rocker (spiked/colored hair, facial piercings) and there's repeated talk of him eating a rat in the past as part of his act.
  • It's possible some kids could be enticed to act blind as a joke after seeing this film.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 3 hells, 1 damn, 10 uses of "For God's sakes," 6 of "Oh God," 5 of "Oh my God," 4 each of "God" and "My God" and 2 uses of "For Christ's sakes" as exclamations.
  • Hal comments on a funny idea in a script about an invention that turns women back into virgins again.
  • While talking about his past with Ellie, Val tells Lori, "We made love" and that he held her head over the toilet when she vomited. Lori then asks if that was from "making love to you."
  • A woman at a party talks about filmmakers needing to make movies for themselves and refers to that as "artistic masturbation." Val agrees, makes a few related comments and then adds, "The nicest thing about masturbation is afterwards. The cuddling time."
  • Val complains about Ellie and Hal exchanging glances back when Val and Ellie were married, and then "exchanging fluids." She then complains that they didn't communicate and he replies that they had sex. She agrees but says they didn't talk. He replies that sex is better than talk (which, he adds, is what one goes through to get to sex). He then complains about her and Hal and mentions "sex and snails" (in context of what they did and ate).
  • A woman wears a very tight tank-top that accentuates her ample bosom.
  • Val is summoned to the lead actress' dressing room. She's wearing a robe and then opens it in front of him to expose her panties and bra (that latter shows a great deal of cleavage). Being blind, he can't see her state of undress, but she comments that the way he looks at her is like "you're making love to me with your eyes." She adds that when she starts to have feelings toward someone, she doesn't hold back. She then has him sit on the sofa next to her and then places his hand on her partially covered breast (with him responding that he doesn't need a throw pillow). She then makes a comment about trust and "make love to me." This gets him nervous/uncomfortable and he gets up and tries to leave (although he can't see where he's going). He then adds that cinema is a jealous mistress, but then adds that they can wait until the shooting (of the film) is over. She then tells him that there's nothing she wouldn't do sexually with him, prompting him to say if she put that in an ad in an industry publication she'd never stop working.
  • Val mentions something about pillow talk and then about Hal's way of having sex with Ellie. He then refers to Ellie being a "hot number" in the past.
  • Lori wears some midriff-revealing tops and pants that are extremely low-cut. In one, she lifts up such a top to show how hard her belly is (from working out). We see that bare belly, but nothing else.
  • Seeing Val planting unwanted kisses on Ellie, Lori comments that they're like "two dogs in heat."
  • While somewhat drunk, Hal comes over and wraps his arms around Ellie, with his body up against her, while she shows off a fair amount of cleavage/the top of her bare breasts in her low-cut cocktail dress.
  • Lori smokes once while acting in a scene from the movie, Val's son smokes once, and a miscellaneous character also smokes.
  • We learn that Val and Ellie are divorced and he accuses her of having an affair with Hal before they split.
  • There's some talk about Val being estranged from his young adult son (from a previous failed marriage) and he eventually goes to see him in an attempt to patch things up.
  • Blindness and adapting to it, and whether its comedic portrayal here is offensive or not.
  • The world of filmmaking.
  • Woody Allen seemingly always pairing himself with much younger women in his films.
  • Working with one's former spouse.
  • There's some slapstick style material involving Val accidentally knocking over a lamp and dropping a drinking glass (we hear both break), as well as falling off part of the set down onto something on the floor below (we see him holding an ice bag to his head), and later falling to the floor when attempting to sit where a sofa is not located.

  • Reviewed April 25, 2002 / Posted May 3, 2002

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