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Curse of the Jade Scorpion

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Starring: Woody Allen, Helen Hunt
Director: Woody Allen
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: August 2001
Genres: Comedy, Suspense

*Also starring: Elizabeth Berkley, Dan Aykroyd, Charlize Theron, Brian Markinson, David Ogden Stiers

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Harvey Karten read the review ---
3.  Jerry Saravia read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION, written and directed by Woody Allen, suffers from the Woody Allen curse. It's a malaise of mediocrity that has struck almost all of his recent films. They're all merely okay -- cute at times with some nice laughs but as forgettable as sitcom reruns.

The setup this time features Woody as crackerjack detective CW Briggs during Woody's favorite period, the 1940s. This allows him to get a lot of his favorite music, jazz, into the score. The weird and wacky theme music for the film manages to be the movie's most endearing and original accomplishment.

Briggs has running verbal battles with the office's new efficiency expert, Betty Ann "Fitz" Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt). Although they appear to despise each other, they subconsciously are head-over-heels in love. Their stream of insults and CW's sexual innuendos form the best part of the dialog. When she finds a deck of playing cards decorated with naked women in his apartment, it confirms her assessment of him as a slimeball. As an explanation, he tells her, "I used to date the six of spades." Many of the jokes, however, are retreads such as the one about the blind beggar. Guess what? He can see.

The plot concerns a hypnotist, Voltan (David Ogden Stiers), who puts both CW and Fitz under a spell. This allows Voltan later to turn them into zombies. With a glaze over their eyes and minds, they become Voltan's remote-controlled jewel thieves.

A subtheme concerns the affair that Fitz is having with their boss, Chris Magruder (Dan Aykroyd). This dissolves into the old routine of whether the married man will leave his wife or not. Elizabeth Berkley (SHOWGIRLS) and Charlize Theron are given a couple of throwaway parts -- Berkley as a woman who looks easy, but isn't, and Theron as a blonde bombshell, who is happiest in bed.

As the story evolves, it turns more and more into a love story. If you like to see old, frail, balding guys taking home the smart, good-looking women, you'll like where the story goes. I must admit that I still find Woody charming, but I suspect it is more in reverence for his great films like ANNIE HALL and HANNAH AND HER SISTERS than for his current pictures. The best that can be said of his latest film is that it's kind of entertaining.

THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION runs too long at 1:44. It is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it ** 1/2. He said that it was funny, but that the film "wasn't the greatest and wasn't the worst." It was okay.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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