CW Briggs is a veteran insurance investigator, with many successes. Betty Ann Fitzgerald is a new employee in the company he works for, with the task of reorganizing the office. They don't like each other - or at least that's what they think. During a night out with the rest of the office employees, they go to watch Voltan, a magician who secretly hypnotizes both of them.
Woody Allen's latest exercise in pretentious miniaturism might be a fitting companion piece to "Small Time Crooks" (or for that matter to the earlier, better "Bullets Over Broadway" or "Manhattan Murder Mystery"). It's a loose-jointed, not especially memorable comic caper with some lovely moments of humorous invention, many patches of clumsy writing ad a few game performances. Mr. Allen plays an insurance investigator in 1940 who falls afoul of a nefarious hypnotist and clashes with Helen Hunt, who plays his co-worker and nemesis. In spite of its evident nostalgia for the cruder sexual politics of bygone days, the movie is as innocuous as it is pointless, and Mr. Allen's lame attempts at Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder wit are as clumsy as Santo Loquasto's period sets are meticulous. - A. O. Scott
2001-08-24 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of The Curse of the Jade Scorpion