CW Briggs (Woody Allen) is an insurance investigator who is currently having trouble at work with the new efficiency expert Betty (Helen Hunt). The two hate one another but are drawn together on a case when a hypnotist (played by David Ogden Stiers) hypnotizes them and forces them to steal jewels without their knowledge.
Ten minutes. That was literally the moment where I said „Oh no.“ at the concept of watching the rest of this movie. There is a scene so bad that starts this movie and it encapsulates perfectly how the rest of the movie is going to fail. It is a scene where Allen and Hunt are in a resteraunt trying to establish their work relationship. I know what Woody Allen was trying to do, but it ends up being a complete disaster. Allen is trying to make a romantic comedy about a couple that starts off as adversaries but become lovers. The movie that immediately sprung to mind is Cary Grant in His Girl Friday. But then upon saying that you realize why this would go horribly wrong even on paper. Woody Allen, even on his best day, is no Cary Grant. Woody Allen is the intellectual who can spout jokes off at the drop of a hat and who has a witty retort to anything. Cary Grant is the kind of person who would steal Woody’s girlfriend without any effort because he is so damn suave and sexy, and Woody would still probably end up being his friend because Grant plays the lovable rogue perfectly. They are damn near as opposite as you can get. And as I said before, that is even on Allen’s best day. This is 69 year old Woody Allen who sounds more like a confused old man rather than the rapid fire comedian of old.
You watch this scene play out and you are painfully aware of the disconnect between what should be there and what actually is there. You should see two sexy actors who are exchanging pithy barbs at one another and who are trying their best to conceal their attraction to one another. What we get is a pervy old man and a shrill secretary bicker and bicker and bicker and bicker until the scene mercifully ends. But it doesn’t end, because you still have the rest of the movie to go.
I’m sorry to keep harping on that one scene but it really is the movie. Stuff happens, the couple meet to bicker over what happened, more pointless stuff happens, the couple meet to bicker more, boring plot reveal, more bickering, conclusion, they love each other…for some reason. This on screen chemistry was supposed to be what carried the movie and when it died in the first ten minutes, you know you are in for a long ride.
I really don’t know what else was supposed to be interesting or funny about this. We know from the beginning what the plot is but for some reason we have to follow Allen as he tries to piece together a mystery we already know the answer to. You may think the characters might do some wacky things while under hypnosis but they don’t. Every couple scenes, Stiers’ character calls up to give the trigger word, Allen goes off like a zombie to steal jewels, and that’s it. Where’s the humor in that? I can understand a scenario in which it could be funny. For example if we had a movie where a hypnotist programmed several code commands in our main character and these codes could make him act in several different ways (for example he could think he was Don Juan or a tough guy like The Rock or some comedian etc.). The hypnotist thinks he eliminates the code words at the end of the show but our main character for some reason keeps them. So during the course of normal life, people use these ordinary words in conversation which are the code words which makes our character transform into another person altogether. Hilarity ensues. I shouldn’t be thinking of funnier movies while watching your crappy movie.
What else can I really say without repeating myself? Oh, this was the first time I was creeped out by the age difference in a Woody Allen romance. We have this scene where Chalize Theron is practically throwing herself onto Allen’s character and I have to admit I was feeling a bit uncomfortable. Seriously, it was semi-unbelievable in the 70’s and now its disturbing.
This movie was a chore. I know I shouldn’t admit this, but at one point I just had this on in the background while trying to beat Gradius on one life. You will find some apologist who loves any Woody Allen movie, but this one more than any other is the one pointed to as the low point in Allen’s career. This is an absolute botch of a filmmaking experience. It is like if Gordon Ramsey tried to make Filet Mignon and he somehow ended up with Jack in the Box Pizza Bites. Do not watch this, even if you feel you are a Woody Allen completist.