The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

(2001) ** Pg-13
103 min. DreamWorks. Director: Woody Allen. Cast: Woody Allen, Dan Aykroyd, Helen Hunt, Elizabeth Berkley, Charlize Theron.

After a prolonged bout of flailing and despite being an original Woody Allen confection, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion falls, finally, flat. One of Allen's nouveau lightweight comedies, Scorpion takes a great premise and slowly drives it into the ground.

Allen plays an insurance investigator and Helen Hunt the efficiency expert out to clean up his universe (hmmm...Woody's been grappling with downsizing his films lately). The two hate— wait, love?— no, hate each other passionately, but matters are complicated by a lounge hypnotist (Allen regular David Ogden Stiers) who turns them into moonlighting thieves and lovers forced to solve the mystery of their own crimes.

Sounds good, huh? Well, compared to most modern comedies, it's average, but judged against the filmmaker's own standard, it's disasterous. With only brief flashes of wit and charm, Allen (as both director and actor) wanders through this curiously boring exercise. All of the ingredients appear to be in the pot, but this one doesn't gel in time for supper.

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