Curse of the Jade Scorpion, The
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: -1

That most scarce of elements in recent films – witty dialogue – shares the spotlight with Woody Allen in this hilarious spoof set in the 1940s. Humphrey Bogart’s CASABLANCA character inspired Allen in “Play It Again, Sam” but the latest film draws from detective mysteries like THE MALTESE FALCON. CW Briggs (Allen), a highly respected insurance investigator, feels threatened when his boss, Chris Magruder (Dan Aykroyd), hires an efficiency expert, Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt). Sparks fly between insecure CW and cutthroat Betty Ann as they insult each other in a battle of wits. At a company party in a nightclub the two participate in a hypnotist's demonstration with a carved jade scorpion. Although the hypnotist (David Ogden Stiers), who also happens to be a clever jewel thief, releases his subjects, he maintains hypnotic control over CW through phone calls. Suddenly CW finds himself in the duo role of chief investigator and prime suspect in a series of huge jewel thefts. Ridiculous and clever, THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION showcases the unique writing, directing and acting talents of Woody Allen. It's great fun for his fans.

The persistent insults exchanged by CW and Betty Ann could be called mean-spirited but not nasty or obscene (like couples in old Spenser-Hepburn or The THIN MAN series films). She refers to him as a roach, vermin, germ-infested weasel, etc. and he responds that she needn't worry about germs -- her cold blood would kill them all. Neither Betty Ann nor CW is exactly a positive role model. He refers to casual sexual liaisons and flirts with the office secretary who tantalizes her male coworkers. CW initially welcomes the aggressive overtures from a beautiful heiress (Charlize Theron) who considers the middle-aged CW a real challenge when he rebuffs her following mysterious phone calls. Meanwhile, Betty Ann is having an affair with her married boss and she, like the other characters, is a heavy drinker and smoker. After drowning her sorrows over her failed love affair, she attempts suicide. Ultimately, however, good wins over evil in this old-fashioned tale set in smoke-filled offices and clubs typical of the 30s and 40s. A few profanities, heavy drinking and a condoned adulterous affair make THE CURSE slightly unsuitable.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: DreamWorks SKG, 100 Universal Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

Crude Language: Once – Mild
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: Several (7) times – Regular 3 (G 2, G-sake 1); Exclamatory 4
Violence: Twice – Mild (gun threat, woman acts like she's going to jump out window)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: Near Nudity - Few times (woman in bed/ draped in sheet, woman with back to camera opens coat, bare shoulders imply nudity)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Men flirt with attractive secretary, references to casual sexual encounters, woman attempts to seduce man, married man and single employee kiss, affair admitted
Drug Abuse: Many times (smoking and alcohol drinking, some drunkenness)
Other: Characters exchange verbal insults; use of hypnotic mind-control treated as evil
Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teenagers and adults

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