The level of inspiration varies considerably from moment to moment here, but the intermingling of old-fashioned romantic comedy and stingingly contemporary satire on Hollywood generates its own more or less irresistible momentum. And Woody the writer-director continues to percolate in ways that indirectly compensate for his dwindling appeal as a performer.
Allen plays the down-on-his-luck director as a self-absorbed joker who may be myopic about a great many things. Hysterical blindness is just one of his problems, but the off-kilter chemistry between Allen and his female co-stars—Tea Leoni as the ex-wife; Debra Messing as the ditzy girlfriend—contributes unexpectedly to the comedy of concealed emotional agendas among a half-dozen characters.
Leoni and Messing are both good in slightly offbeat ways, and actor-director Mark Rydell is fine as the blind director’s mother hen of an agent. Treat Williams and George Hamilton both do sleekly ironic turns as overly polished Hollywood executives.