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The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Woody Allen, Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Berkley

india Updated: May 10, 2003 21:18 IST

Clearly, Woody Allen has left his great years behind. It’s been a while that he has made a film that lingered in your memory, and that unapologised ambition at creating cinematic entertainment that dares clichéd Hollywood parameters has offered nothing exciting for a long time now. Yet, following the same pattern of irony that Allen injects into most of his films, The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion pops across as a film better than any he has dished out of late. And given Hollywood’s penchant at manufacturing stereotypes, that alone remains the redeeming feature for his new film.

The make-belief scenario of a nerdish New York insurance investigator and his female colleague – with whom he’ll bicker throughout the film before finally realising his love for her – cast under the spell of an evil magician that makes them commit acts of crime every night comes across as a light-hearted comic romp. It’s ordinary by Woody Allen standards but then it’s something that the actor/filmmaker doesn’t normally dabble with.

Perhaps Allen was trying to be cerebral with his comedy, but the plodding pace of the film only hampers in sustaining the laughs. Too bad, because some of the lines were funny indeed.

Of course, given the strong cast the performances are consistent. Allen as CW Briggs, the investigator, and Helen Hunt as Fitzgerald, the in-house efficiency management executive, who hate each other, are good to say the least, as is David Ogden Stiers as the evil magician Voltan, who hypnotises them with a jade scorpion into stealing jewels. A touch of glamour comes with Charlize Theron’s cameo of Laura Kensington, the millionaire’s daughter who wants to ‘experiment’ lovemaking with a social misfit like Briggs for the heck of it.

The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion is your cup of tea if you are a true-blue Hollywood freak who wants to try something beyond run-of-the-mill comedy. So what if it’s not perfect.

First Published: May 10, 2003 21:18 IST