Woody Allen’s perennial ensemble comedy (though less populated than usual), shuttling back to 1940, where plays an insurance investigator: opponent of technical advancement and a “broad” with a mind.Helen Hunt’s keen (if not assumptive) company reorganizer ergo stands as a double obstacle to Allen. However, Allen and Hunt are hypnotized (or programmed) to perform “inside jobs” when they are phoned the commands “Constantinople” and “Madagascar” — in addition to falling in love. So it’s a “whodunit” Woody-style, a throwback to simple but cheesy pulp dialogue, with a smoggy, smothering ambiance enhanced by the murky, soupy cinematography. Allen’s stuttering, stumbling pleonasms are a bit messier and clumsily poorer than usual, but Dan Aykroyd’s rigidly forced artificiality is by far the most distracting. It seems that, most of all, what people didn’t get about The Curse of the Jade Scorpion was how much fun it was, and how well its topicality fits within Allen’s oeuvre. No other claims were made.
With Charlize Theron, David Ogden Stiers and Elizabeth Berkley.[Worth-seeing.]