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THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION : Woody Allen writes, directs and stars as C.W. Briggs in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.




 Woody Allen writes, directs and stars as C.W. Briggs in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion Allen, as Briggs, is a fervent insurance investigator struggling to maintain his company’s out-of-date status quo, while the firm's new efficiency expert, Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt), repeatedly bulldozes over Briggs’s resistance.

The zany comedy begins with a bang: the unmistakable Woody Allen on-screen persona swims in a huge overcoat and overlarge fedora in a typically 1940s pose, while in a continual dither, he stumbles on practically every line of dialogue as only Woody Allen can.

Fitzgerald, empowered by higher-ups, rides roughshod over Briggs and thus begins the romance made in hell.

Voltan (David Ogden Stiers) is the hypnotist-thief who programs the warring Briggs and Fitzgerald with a mesmerizing jade scorpion medallion to become on-stage lovers, then to burgle a local mansion of priceless valuables.

Consequently, the lantern-jawed Allen and Hunt wage a battle of unsuspected complicity. At first, even the brilliant mind of Briggs is too close to the mystery to lead him to the culprits -- himself
and Fitzgerald -- and to the inevitable romance with his undiscovered ladylove.

Curse as a talk rather than an action movie, leaves a residual sour taste of insult on top of insult throughout -- (“Germs couldn’t live in your bloodstream,” says Fitzgerald caustically. “Have
you been gargling with tequila?” responds Briggs.) -- an unwelcome change from the lyrical madness of Allen’s usual oblique humor.

While Hunt is the best thing in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion Allen comes in second best and Dan Ackroyd believably plays the executive with whom Hunt is at first dallying but is given little opportunity to demonstrate his comedic talent.

Also starring (in alphabetical order) Elizabeth Berkley, Brian Markinson, Wally Shawn and Charlize Theron. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is produced by Letty Aronson, with Helen Robin as co-producer. Stephen Tenenbaum is the executive producer, and Datty Ruth, Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe are the co-executive producers. Cinematographer is Zhao Fei, production designer Santo Loquasto, editor Alisa Lepselter, costume designer Suzanne McCabe.

Whatever you may think The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Woody Allen’s 32nd feature film unquestionably deserves an “A” for effort.

© 2001, by Robert Story

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