August 06, 2007

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review


The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001).

Woody Allen is CW Briggs, a crack, old-fashioned investigator for a big insurance company. Helen Hunt is Betty Ann Fitzgerald, a snappy, liberated "efficiency expert" hired by the company's president (played by Dan Aykroyd) to streamline its operations (and carry on with him on the side). Briggs and Fitzgerald hate each other on sight. However, during a birthday party for another company employee, a magician hypnotizes them into temporarily falling in love with each other. Unbeknownst to anybody, the magician's real trick is to retain his power over them after the show, ordering each in turn to steal jewels from some of the insurance company's wealthiest clients.

I was expecting a light, frivolous comedy. What I got was just tepid mush. There seemed to be almost no energy and very little chemistry, not that the idea of Allen and Hunt as a couple isn't preposterous on its face. And while I didn't mind the silliness of the plot, it also seemed thin and tired and full of half-hearted attempts to expand that lead to dead ends (the most noticable being a sub-routine involving Charlize Theron as the shmokin' hot daughter of one of Allen's rich clients). The dialogue, too, was uniformly flat and uninteresting. At better than an hour and a half, I thought the movie was about twice as long as it needed to be.

The one thing this film has going for it is its visuals. The piece is set in 1940 New Yawk, and the period costumes and sets were fabulous. I understand that Allen spent a boatload of money on this and it was well worth it. Long after I lost any interest in listening, I at least had something to look at.

Oh, and I will say that I don't let what might be called the Woody Allen Ick Factor interfere with my assessment of this film. (The Missus suffers from WAIF - she couldn't take much more than about twenty minutes of the thing.) I can still appreciate classics like Broadway Danny Rose, Manhattan Murder Mystery and the like. This was just plain lame.

Robbo's Recommendation: Zero Yips! out of five. Don't bother.

Posted by Robert at August 6, 2007 11:02 AM | TrackBack

WAIF is a terribly appropos label for all things Woody Allen. Like Pee-Wee Herman. The level of visceral rejection is equal. Ick!

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at August 6, 2007 11:16 AM