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Woody Allen, Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron, Brian Markinson, Dan Aykroyd

Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Produced by: Letty Aronson, Helen Robin
Distributor: DreamWorks SKG

US: 24/08/01 UK: 06/12/02

Allen playsd the top insurance investigator in New York in 1940 - or so he keeps telling the firm's new efficiency expert, Betty Ann "Fitz" Fitzgerald. Briggs prides himself on being able to crack any insurance caper by getting into the mind of the thief, but now, thanks to the hypnotic powers of the Jade Scorpion, the mind of a thief is getting into Briggs.
UK distributors outdo themselves this time... over 15 months after its US release we finally get another Woody. And even a sub-par Woody is still funnier than most so-called comedies churned out by Hollywood. And dats a fact. This received mixed reviews in the States where the Woodman has long since lost his comic godlike status. Mainly because of the fallout over his split with Mia Farrow - and the child molestation accusations made by the former love of him life. What can you do?

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E! Online/Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Trib/LA Times
Rolling Stone/Reel Reviews
USA Today/Village Voice
People/Entertainment Weekly

Dave Reviews Out Loud/
Ebert & Roeper

Charlize Theron toys with her little man

This is from the enjoyable fluff section of the Woody Allen filmography--a loopy comedy with sharp dialog and an improbable comic plot that keeps us entertained. Allen stars as CW Briggs, a 1940 insurance detective who has a knack for solving crimes. He's engaged in a battle of wits with the firm's new efficiency expert Betty Ann (Hunt), who's having a fling with the boss (Aykroyd). On an office night out, CW and Betty Ann are hypnotized as part of the nightclub show, but the magician (Stiers) leaves a post-hypnotic suggestion that lets him use CW to rob his own clients. So he's now investigating his own crimes. And Betty Ann is discovering that there's more to him than meets the eye.

First things first: Yes, this is yet another Woody Allen film in which beautiful women throw themselves at him. Not only Hunt, but Berkley (as the office bimbo) and Theron (as a client's slutty daughter). Sure, Allen undercuts himself with a heavy dose of hilarious self-deprecation, but honestly! This is a recurring flaw in his films that takes us out of the story completely. Otherwise, this is an enjoyable comic romp, with Allen capturing the brainy banter of vintage office comedies. It's very funny, and very quick! Almost every line has a rude joke in it that you can catch only if you're paying close attention. And the film is directed in the same period style, with amber hues, simple sets and cleverly staged screwball. The performances are all very good, although they're somewhat uneven, like everyone is in a different film--dryly ironic (Aykroyd), earnestly unflappable (Hunt), sharp but very flappable (Allen), sophisticated wit (Shawn), sultry vixen (Theron), and so on. Ah well, even a mediocre Woody Allen film is better than most of what's out there! And this one is certainly enjoyable enough to keep us laughing for a couple of hours.



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