Picks and Pans Review: The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
The disheartening deceleration of Woody Allen's career continues with his latest offering, a thin caper comedy about two spatting coworkers who fall for each other while under hypnosis. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is pleasant enough and its jokes less forced than those in the writer-director-star's last film, Small Time Crooks, but Allen is working out of the middle drawer here.
He plays C.W. Briggs, the savvy chief investigator at a Manhattan insurance agency in the 1940s. Hunt is Betty Ann Fitzgerald, a newly hired efficiency expert intent on streamlining Briggs out of his job. Out one night with colleagues at a nightclub, the two are hypnotized by Voltan (David Ogden Stiers), a turban-wearing mesmerist who tells the pair that they are madly in love. They go all gooey-eyed but, when Voltan brings them out of the trance, return to hurling barbs at each other. Within days Voltan phones Briggs, puts him back under and orders him to steal jewels insured by Briggs's own company. When Briggs begins investigating the theft, unaware that he himself committed it, he zeroes in on Fitzgerald as his chief suspect.
Scorpion's one-liners are often amusing ("Never trust a woman who hails her own cab," says Briggs) and the performances snappy, but both Allen's and Hunt's abrasive characters border on charmless. More problematic is the fact that Allen, now 65, looks—there's no way to say this delicately—decidedly grand-fatherly. The gaping age disparity between Briggs and Fitzgerald (Hunt is 38) remains inexplicably unaddressed, the elephant in the room that no one dares mention. (PG-13)
Bottom Line: Scorpion, where is thy sting?
On Newsstands Now
- Kim's Delivery Room Drama!
- Katie: A Year After Split
- Princess Kate: Palace's Baby Plan Revealed
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine