The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is a 2001 crime comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Woody Allen. The cast also features Helen Hunt, Dan Aykroyd, Elizabeth Berkley, John Schuck, Wallace Shawn, David Ogden Stiers, and Charlize Theron. The plot concerns an insurance investigator and an efficiency expert who are both hypnotized by a crooked hypnotist into stealing jewels. The film bears much more in common with Allen's earlier screwball comedy films than with other films made by him around the same time.
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C.W. Briggs is an insurance investigator who is highly successful, owing to his many connections and ability to think like a criminal. His work does not impress Betty Ann Fitzgerald, an efficiency expert who butts heads with Briggs over his old-fashioned views. Her advice is usually followed however, because she secretly is in a relationship with her boss, Chris Magruder, who constantly reassures her that they will be free to pursue their relationship in public once he finalizes his divorce with his wife.
While attending a dinner with some employees, Fitzgerald and Briggs are called on by a stage magician to be in his hypnotism act. Using the words "Madagascar" and "Constantinople" on them respectively as trigger words to put then in a trance, the two are given the suggestion that they are newlyweds who are madly in love before being reawakened. When Briggs returns home for the evening, he receives a call from the magician, who uses Brigg's trigger word to put him back in a trance and orders him to steal jewels for him. Briggs has no recollections of these crimes after he is woken up and is determined to prove himself by solving the crimes. He begins to investigate Fitzgerald on the grounds of her suspicious behavior (actually related to her affair with Magruder) and sneaks into her house one evening. There, he witnesses Magruder tell her that he has reconciled with his wife and will not have a divorce. When he leaves, Fitzgerald becomes drunk in a fit of depression and tries to jump out of a window. Briggs stops her and spends the night keeping her from other self destructive activity.
Eventually, investigations begin to pick up evidence that points to Briggs, leading to his arrest. He manages to escape to Fitzgerald's place, where she grudgingly hides him. Thinking that Briggs is no longer available, the magician begins to call Fitzgerald, using her trigger word of "Madagascar" to put her in a hypnotic state and resume stealing for him. It also becomes apparent that the subliminal suggestion of being in love has remained, as Fitzgerald and Briggs continue to act the part of newlyweds with each other while hypnotized. This leads several of Brigg's co-workers to recall the initial hypnotism and realize that it is the cause of the robberies. They free Briggs of the trigger word and upon remembering everything, he rushes to the site where the still hypnotized Fitzgerald is delivering the jewels to the magician. Briggs is discovered and held at gunpoint, however he deduces that a small-time criminal like the magician wouldn't have the nerve to do something as drastic as murder. The magician attempts to run but is caught by the police shortly after.
Back at work, Briggs attempts to convince Fitzgerald that he loves her and she is better off with him than Magruder (who insists once more that his relationship with his wife has begun to deteriorate and they will be divorcing). She remains unwilling to break up with her boss, leading Briggs to ask, "Where are you going? Madagascar?" and puts her in a hypnotic and loving state.
After they have left, their colleague George remarks that he already deprogrammed her.
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