May 17, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

At 66, Woody Allen is still playing the role of a nervous middle-aged man who acts like a nervous teenager, and it no longer looks good on him. He now just seems like a cranky old uncle who keeps getting older and crankier. This time, his name is Val Waxman, and he’s a once-celebrated Hollywood filmmaker who goes psychosomatically blind just as he’s about to direct his comeback film. The high-concept broadness of the blind-Woody gimmick promises a slapstick jamboree that never arrives. Coming after The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, in which Allen wandered about in a hypnotized haze, the film makes you wonder what’s next: Woody as a paraplegic? A mute eunuch?

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