A HOT conversation between Allen and Theron.
photo: Courtesy of Continental Film
Running time: 103 min
Starring: Woody Allen, Dan Ackroyd, Helen Hunt, Brian Markinson, David Ogden Stiers, Charlize Theron
Directed by: Woody Allen
Rating: 5 out of 10
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THE CURSE of the Jade Scorpion (2001) is a typical Woody Allen movie - typical in the sense that it lacks any new impulses that might differentiate it from his other recent lukewarm successes.
The movie's plot unfolds in New York. We are again in the 1940's, a decade which seems to have given Allen a curious amount of inspiration. The main character, insurance investigator C.W. Briggs (Allen), works for the North Coast company and is known for his unusual investigative methods.
But C.W.'s reputation seems in danger after 'efficiency expert' Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt) is hired to make some improvements in the company. "Fitz" (as C.W. mockingly calls her) at first seems to be made of stone and devoid of feminine qualities, but later turns out to be the mistress of the married company president, Chris Magruder (Dan Ackroyd).
We bump along in the film until a birthday party at which C.W. and Fitz volunteer to take part in a magic show put on by Voltan Polgar (David Stiers), who hypnotises them with a jade scorpion, making them fall deeply in love (ie as soon as they wake up they look at each other with the usual disgust).
However, Polgar is no fool. In hypnotising them he has planted a seed, allowing him later over the phone to re-hypnotise them and turn them into zombie jewel thieves who don't remember any of the crimes they commit once they wake up.
The Jade Scorpion is another Allen detective story full of hackneyed settings and Allen gimmicks. Allen again plays the womaniser, relying for laughs on the improbability of someone with his looks attracting excellent babes. In this flick he turns Laura Kensington (Charlize Theron), a spoiled high society girl, into sexual putty in his sweaty hands. Their short seductive dialogues, however, substitute for the lack of energy in Helen Hunt's acting, where even the words she utters in her hypnotic trance don't sound sincere.
The movie is the continuation of a decline seen in Woody Allen's late 1990s productions such as the ordinary Everyone Says I Love You (1997) and Sweet and Lowdown (1999). It lacks the originality so unforgettable in the Bullets Over Broadway (1994).
Despite a well constructed narrative and a solid jazz sound track, this movie is nothing more than fast food from a man who once served full course dinners.