Monday 31 March 2008

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001) - ickleReview (DVD)

Woody Allen period film set in 1940. Allen plays W. C. Briggs, an insurance investigator who feels threatened in the office by the new efficiency expert Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt) who is having an affair with the boss, Chris Magruder (Dan Aykroyd). On an office night out, W. C. and Fitzgerald are both hypnotized under the Curse of the Jade Scorpion. The trigger words "Constantinople" and "Madagascar" remain effective after the evening's entertainment. The hypnotist later calls W. C. [good initials, by the way] and gives him instructions, under hypnosis, to steal a valuable collection of jewels. The next morning he is on the case, investigating himself, but not knowing that he is the thief.

Like Radio Days (1987), another of his 1940s nostalgia flicks, the period detail is finely observed. There is a real old-school feel to the insurance office, when women were still treated as objects to be not-so-subtly ogled at. Elizabeth Berkley is one of W. C.'s office floozies, while Charlize Theron plays a notorious high-society playgirl blonde, both, of course, implausibly attracted to the Allen character (he never lets us down - hey, it's the movies!).

Nugget: this is apparently one of Allen's favourite movies of his own making - this usually means the production process went well, with few flaws and much luck. The result is certainly an entertaining and amusing 98 minutes. There are no great secrets about the plot; the joy is in watching it unravel under Allen's customary directorial charm.

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