Woody vs. Woody
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
Review by Ross Anthony

A slimy insurance investigator traces the steps of a crafty jewel thief; the twist - they're the same guy.

Briggs (Woody Allen) brags to fellow workers about cases he's cracked, including that stolen Picasso, "It took me five minutes just to find the nose." While avoiding brainy efficiency expert Helen Hunt, Woody chases the high skirts with low IQ's. Hunt and Allen explore every crevice of their mutual disdain for each other via blustery punches of verbal offense. All of which is pretty darned funny save for a motif of contused conclusions by Hunt that are not only awkward, but fail to connect for all the effort.

Hunt, nonetheless, performs marvelously (the aforementioned dialogue blunder not her fault), "I'm smarter, faster and I can see right through you -- you're right to feel threatened by me." Woody is his bumbling anti-hero self. In fact, the juxtaposition of these two contrasting acting styles The Curse of the Jade Scorpionproves unsettling at first, but later queerly entertaining. This contemptuous relationship sets up an interwoven "hypnotic" love affair nicely after the Great Voltan (Stiers) magician/hypnotist chooses Hunt and Allen as his victims (er..ah volunteers).

Charlize Theron also deserves mention, though her role as the quintessential blond bombshell actress from film's jazz area reprises only a handful of times. She's a human/live action Jessica Rabbit. Among his many many brilliantly comic lines, Woody says to Charlize, "I grow on people, perhaps we can meet later and I'll grow on you?"

Good acting aside, Woody seems ill-cast. Fifty percent of the time he's perfect, especially in oral bout's with Hunt (the window scene is smashing - no pun). However, the other half of the time, he feels like a square peg forced into a round role.

A couple of recesses from logic mar the otherwise charming, cute, clever plot. The most blaring: While we can accept the idea that Woody might not remember what transpired under hypnosis ... why does he forget what happened just prior?

A light jazzy period comedy set in the 1940's with a clever sense of humor and a spirit strong enough to overcome its faults.

  • The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Woody Allen, Helen Hunt, Dan Aykroyd, David Ogden Stiers, Charlize Theron.
  • Written and Directed by Woody Allen.
  • Produced by Letty Aronson at Dreamworks/VCL.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:17:10 PDT