The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Director/Writer:Woody Allen
DreamWorks Pictures; PG-13; 103 minutes
Cast:Woody Allen, Helen Hunt, Elizabeth Berkley

You've got to hand it to Woody Allen: few directors have managed to create and fill such specific market niches. His movies lose money in America, and he's currently involved in an ugly legal battle with the folks who bankrolled them. Nevertheless, Allen cranks out increasingly similar films year after year, and convinces big-name actors and actresses to star in them. Incredible, yes. Innovative, no.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion puts writer-director Allen at an insurance company in the 1940s. He's in a fast-tongued squabble with Helen Hunt's character, an efficiency expert brought in to whip the company into shape. (She occupies the same job position and romantic dynamic as in What Woman Want.) The madcap plot hinted at by the title involves hypnosis and jewel-theft. Also, Charlize Theron plays a wealthy socialite with the highly improbable hots for 65-year-old Allen.

The movie is entertaining—Hunt's performance is a high point—but fails to communicate anything Allen hasn't said in other movies.

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