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The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion  

Directed by: Woody Allen

It is 1940, and CW Briggs (Woody Allen) is the top investigator for an insurance firm. Whenever something big is stolen from one of their clients, CW is the one on the case for his instincts serve him well and has solved many a case. He has everything under control in the workplace; that is until Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt), a "by the book" efficiency expert, walks into the office. The two do not get along and hate each other with a passion. Put them together within ten feet of one another and an argument is guaranteed to ensue. However, despite all their bickering, there is this underlying sultry spark between the two.

One night, CW, Betty and a bunch of their co-workers attend a dinner party, and the two are drafted into volunteering for a hypnosis act. Voltan the magician dangles a pendant of the Jade Scorpion in front of CW and Betty, and the two are soon in a deep trance. With the command words of "Constantinople" and "Madagascar", Voltan can make them do almost anything. The problem is that the night may be over, but Voltan's spell isn't, for he calls them up on the phone days later, hypnotizes them and sets them off to do his evil work of burglary. Can the great CW crack the case open when he himself is the prime suspect?

Woody Allen has been directing movies for a long time now, with such classics as "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan" in the 70's and the underrated "Husbands and Wives" and "Deconstructing Harry" in the 90's. I am truly a big fan of his, but it is obvious that "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" is far from being up to par with the others. The screenplay is unevenly bungling at times. Some of the jokes and one liners just didn't have the same zing. Allen and Hunt delivered the lines the best they can, yet our chuckle never materialized in several instances.

The good thing about the film is that it has good momentum to snatch it from the occasional rut. After a sluggish start, the film does a turnaround. "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" gets polished up a bit and does give us a good share of laughs and an amusingly silly plot. Like other Allen films, the music is a great companion to this lighthearted comedy. The jazzy flavor brings the 1940's back to swinging vigor. Allen, Hunt and the supporting cast (Dan Aykroyd, Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Berkley, etc.) are wonderful and really hold the film together.

"The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" may not be one of Allen's better films, but it has just enough tricks up its sleeve to make us watch the act.

Film is Rated PG-13 for some sexual content.


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