Making the Grades
CW BRIGGS (WOODY ALLEN) IS A 1940's New York insurance investigator with an uncanny knack for recovering lost goods and an equally uncharming penchant for hitting on women. His mish-mash office files and arrogant attitude grate on the nerves of the mouthy, new office efficiency officer, Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt), and leave the two co-workers ready to voice their dislike for one another at every available opportunity. In the company of Chris Magruder (Dan Aykroyd), their philandering company president, they attend a birthday bash for a fellow employee. The evening's entertainment includes a hypnotic demonstration by the mystical Volton (David Ogden Stiers) who uses the power of the Jade Scorpion to bring a temporary truce between the battling colleagues.
But the effects of the evening are lost when the company's high security clients begin to fall victim to a quick-handed jewel thief. Briggs, suspecting an in-house job, hones in on the late-working Fitzgerald. However, it's not long before suspicions turn on the aging and acrimonious Briggs who has to outrun the local law enforcers and avoid the advances of an alluring, red-lipped temptress (Charlize Theron) while trying to clear his name.
Allen's sputtering, bumbling Briggs is an unlikely romantic lead who somehow manages to have young and sexy woman fall for him, despite chauvinistic actions that would spark sexual harassment charges in the present office environment while Hunt's sharp, strong-willed character makes one bad relationship decision after another and eases her woes by drinking. Even more unsettling are their caustic exchanges and the constant sexual dialogue played out in a cigarette haze created by nearly every cast member in the film. In addition, there is plenty of imbibing all the way around, references to opium use, and a scene depicting a woman who exposes herself (we only see an upper back view).
Although The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion is filled with snappy 40's jazz, quick-witted one-liners, and moments of well-written script, this film is doomed in the family-viewing department.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion.
Both CW Briggs and Betty Ann Fitzgerald have been involved in bad personal relationships. How do those past relationships color their views of the opposite gender? How does each character cover up their insecurities?
How did the characters in this film use alcohol to help them build up their courage during difficult times or to forget their troubles? Did the alcohol sharpen or deaden their ability to make good choices?