[Screen It]


(2001) (Woody Allen, Helen Hunt) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy None Heavy None Minor
Mild None None None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Heavy Minor Mild Minor

Comedy: A 1940s insurance investigator tries to figure out who's robbing homes where he's previously installed elaborate security systems, all while being unaware that he's the actual thief who's being controlled by a criminal hypnotist.
It's 1940 and CW Briggs (WOODY ALLEN) is one of the best insurance investigators working for North Coast Casualty and Fidelity of New York. A sexist, middle-aged man who enjoys flirting with Jill (ELIZABETH BERKLEY), one of the office secretaries, CW uses his intuition and street connections as much as standard detective measures to crack various insurance claim cases.

Not surprisingly, he doesn't get along with Betty Ann Fitzgerald (HELEN HUNT), the strong-willed and confident efficiency expert who's been shaking up the status quo ever since joining the company. Since she's having an affair with their married office boss, Chris Magruder (DAN AYKROYD), CW must put up with her changes and snide remarks thrown back at him.

Their antagonism is brought to an amusing head at a birthday party for coworker George Bond (WALLACE SHAWN) where Voltan the Magician (DAVID OGDEN STIERS) hypnotizes the two - using a jade scorpion pendant - and makes them believe they're really in love. They then do just that, at least until Voltan breaks the trance, and CW doesn't believe coworker Al (BRIAN MARKINSON) afterwards when he explains what happens.

Nor can the investigator believe that someone is robbing places where he previously installed security systems. Having to deal with both Betty Ann and a rich femme fatale, Laura Kensington (CHARLIZE THERON) while trying to crack those crimes, little does CW know that he's still under Voltan's spell and is repeatedly robbing homes under his command. From that point on, and as he becomes the prime suspect to outside detectives Joe Coopersmith (PETER LINARI) and Herb Coopersmith (MICHAEL MULHEREN), CW does what he can to clear his name all while trying to solve the case.

If they're fans of Woody Allen films or someone in the cast, they just might, but it doesn't seem likely that many kids will be clamoring for this one.
For some sexual content.
  • WOODY ALLEN plays an insurance investigator in 1940 who's very good at what he does and isn't above flirting with the ladies and dropping sexual innuendo. He also has a sexist attitude toward women, drinks, and unwittingly robs places while under a hypnotic spell.
  • HELEN HUNT plays a strong-willed and confident woman who's working as the company's efficiency expert. She's having an affair with her boss and doesn't get along with CW. She also smokes and drinks to the point of passing out.
  • DAN AYKROYD plays their boss who's having an affair with Betty Ann and drinks and smokes.
  • BRIAN MARKINSON plays one of CW's associates who smokes and tries to help out the investigator.
  • WALLACE SHAWN plays another coworker.
  • DAVID OGDEN STIERS plays a magician who smokes and uses hypnosis to get others to commit crimes for him.
  • CHARLIZE THERON plays a femme fatale character who smokes, drinks and tries to seduce CW.
  • PETER LINARI and MICHAEL MULHEREN play two outside detectives brought in to assist in cracking the case.
  • ELIZABETH BERKLEY plays a secretary/assistant where CW works who puts up with him hitting on her, all with a smile on her face.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this comedy that's been rated PG-13. The rating comes from all sorts of sexual content that includes non-explicit sexual references, proposals/requests, and innuendo/double entendres, most of which occur in an old-fashioned, film noir style. A femme fatale character apparently shows her nude body to the protagonist (but we don't see the nudity) and moments later is seen lying seductively in his bed (but nothing happens). Some passionate kissing also occurs in a few scenes.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (one has a period, sexist one toward women, another is having an affair and a third is causing others to commit crimes for him via hypnosis). They and/or others also smoke and drink, with one woman doing a lot of the latter to the point of passing out. Beyond that, profanity consists of a few minor expletives and phrases, while a man briefly holds a gun on another man.

    Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may want to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific information about what's present and occurs in it.

  • CW has a beer in front of him in a bar, while Betty Ann orders some tequila.
  • People have drinks in a club.
  • Laura walks in, carrying a drink. Later, she drinks some more and asks CW whether he'd rather go to Chinatown or Harlem that night, stating that depends on whether he prefers jazz or opium.
  • Laura mentions having some 120 proof vodka.
  • Al talks with CW about booze doing funny things to men, like having them wake up with strange women.
  • Betty Ann returns home with Magruder who asks for a drink, causing her to say they've had enough and wondering how much alcohol one needs to be honest. That said, she pours herself a drink. Moments later, she pours herself another drink and then drinks liquor straight from the bottle. She then drinks from the bottle again and is drinking a lot, eventually passing out from that.
  • CW pours drinks for Betty Ann and himself.
  • Magruder has a drink in front of him and Betty Ann states that she needs one. We then see her drinking with him.
  • Betty Ann has a drink and then asks for another.
  • Magruder has a drink.
  • CW pours himself a drink and noticing how Betty Ann is acting (she's under a trance, unbeknownst to him), he asks her what she smoked before he woke up.
  • Betty Ann asks CW if he wants a parting drink, and he wonders about doing so that early in the morning. She says it's only tequila and he comments about a woman who keeps a bottle of booze in his desk (and they then drink).
  • None.
  • Although something of a norm for the time, CW has sexist attitudes toward women, flirting and dropping innuendo with them (and calling them "broads" as do other men). Thus, he's threatened by Betty Ann's more progressive behavior and beliefs.
  • CW and Betty Ann don't get along or like each other at first, with both exchanging barbed criticism and snipes at each other. He also accepts her lunch from the deliveryman and throws it into the trash.
  • We learn and then see that Magruder, who's married, is having an affair with Betty Ann, his employee (she says she's only doing that since he's told her he's going to get a divorce).
  • Voltan uses his hypnotic power over CW and Betty Ann to make them rob places for his gain.
  • Despite being engaged, Laura asks out CW and later tries to seduce him.
  • CW and the Coopersmiths don't get along with or like each other.
  • Believing Betty Ann to be the thief, CW first rummages through her office belongings, and then breaks into her home via a copied key.
  • Despite dumping Betty Ann to stay with his wife, Magruder tells her that they can still be friends and they can even continue to sleep together.
  • We learn that CW and Betty Ann's spouses cheated on them.
  • Laura helps CW escape police custody after he's arrested.
  • None.
  • Handgun: Briefly aimed at CW by Voltan.
  • Phrases: "Broad(s)" and "Toots" (woman/women), "Have you got a loose screw?" (Are you crazy), "Jerk(s)," "You wormy little ferret," "Nuts" (crazy), "You slimy little weasel" and "What the hell are you doing here?"
  • Some kids could become interested in trying to hypnotize others.
  • Upset about being dumped and a little drunk, Betty Ann prepares to commit suicide by jumping out her window, but CW stops her (all played in a lighthearted and not realistic tone).
  • Laura briefly passionately kisses CW, but does so to pass a key to him via their mouths.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 2 hells, 1 damn, 4 uses each of "God" and "My God," 2 of "For God's sakes" and 1 use each of "Oh God" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • CW asks Jill to accompany him to a party and she states she'd love to go as long as he has her back and in bed by midnight (not said in a sexual meaning), with him replying, "That's exactly what I was planning" (with a double meaning). As she walks away, he and another man admire her shape, with the other man stating that she has a body that won't quit.
  • CW tells Betty Ann that what she needs is a "good old-fashioned roll in the hay," causing her to tell him that he wouldn't know which end is up. He then replies that in her case it would be hard to tell.
  • We learn and then see that Magruder, who's married, is having an affair with Betty Ann. We then hear about their code that includes the word "Paris" meaning that they really want to make love to each other. Throughout the film, there are then all sorts of references made about Paris, such as the Germans occupying Paris (a double meaning). Later, and after dumping her, Magruder tells Betty Ann that he wants to discuss the Paris account with her, but she states that it's now closed. In a later scene, CW mentions that Magruder is "going to Paris" more often with Betty Ann than his wife. In another one, Magruder tells CW that he and Betty Ann are going to Paris, causing CW to ask if he means the actual city. Finally, when Al tells CW the same thing, CW questions if he means the real place.
  • After Voltan hypnotizes CW and Betty Ann and makes them think they're honeymooners who are deeply in love, she longingly asks CW to make love to her there and now.
  • After CW makes another proposition to Jill, she tells him that she feels like she's coming down with a cold. In turn, he states that he can rub down her chest with some Vicks, causing her to state that anyone who rubs down her chest had better bring a ring (or something like that).
  • Magruder and Betty Ann passionately kiss.
  • Laura - who acts sensuous/seductive -- catches CW going through her mother's belongings, and asks if he gets a kick out of fondling women's shoes (since he's holding one), and he nervously replies that sometimes he fondles a whole woman. She then states that he has a fresh mouth and he replies that he grows on people and that if they meet later, "I could grow on you" (innuendo).
  • He then playfully mentions something about if he slapped her around, she might change her mind. She then replies that she could slap him back. He then says that sounds like fun and asks if they should put some music on. Moments later, and to prove who she is, she says she has a strawberry mark on her thigh and asks if he wants to see it. He replies that he will later, when he can take the "full tour." He later comments that he always gets his man (meaning his detective work), with her replying, "Me too."
  • We hear Magruder tell Betty Ann that she's right and that they shouldn't fool around at the office (we don't see anything sexual, however).
  • After she learns that CW has a deck of playing cards featuring naked ladies on them (we don't see them), Laura guesses that he uses them to play solitaire (innuendo). She then asks if he's dying to see her strawberry mark (on her thigh) and he mentions something about checking it out. He then tells her to remove her coat since it hasn't rained in his apartment in twenty years. She then opens and partially lowers it, apparently exposing her nude body to him (she's facing him with her back to the camera, so all we see is the top of her bare back and the look on his face). She then asks what he thinks and he mentions something about if he passes out they'll have to wipe the smile off his face. Nothing else happens, however, as Voltan calls up and puts him back under a hypnotic trance. We do see her, however, now lying under his sheet (with one thigh exposed) as she asks him if he's heard of the Kama Sutra. In a trance, he states that he's sorry, and adds that they're going to have to postpone their little rendezvous. She then sits up, holding the sheet across her chest (and we see some cleavage) and states that she's not used to being kicked out of a man's bed. He then states that she has a splendidly shaped buttock, as she gets madder by the moment.
  • Al talks with CW about booze doing funny things to men, like having them wake up with strange women (this is after CW mentions finding a woman's stockings in his place).
  • Despite dumping Betty Ann to stay with his wife, Magruder tells her that they can still be friends and they can even continue to sleep together.
  • CW tells Betty Ann that Magruder feeds her all sorts of stories so that "he can get into your pants." He then states that if he were her, he wouldn't uncross his legs (or something like that) if Magruder tells her he's leaving his wife again.
  • CW tells the Coopersmiths that all women look the same when they're upside down (a possible sexual reference) when they ask about Laura being at his place. When one of them mentions it being strange about him having a woman in his place (as he's told them, but it's really Betty Ann hiding from them) and being interested in making love after he's been accused of being the thief, CW replies that he has to get it all while he can.
  • Laura briefly passionately kisses CW, but does so to pass a key to him via their mouths.
  • While under Voltan's trance, Betty Ann tells CW that her passion for him is so intense that it scares her. She then removes his jacket and starts to unbutton his shirt, while asking him to kiss her (all while he acts nervous/flustered). Later, she wakes up from the trance and doesn't remember anything.
  • CW and Betty Ann passionately kiss (while she's under a trance).
  • Seemingly referring to Laura, Magruder mentions something about finding some "action" himself.
  • CW mentions to Betty Ann about finding some place to make up for lost time between them.
  • Magruder, Betty Ann, Voltan, Laura, Al and one of the Coopersmiths all smoke several times, while many minor/miscellaneous/background characters smoke in many scenes.
  • We hear that CW was married until his wife left him and later learn that Betty Ann was previously married (her husband ran off with someone else), but little is made of either issue.
  • We learn that Magruder is cheating on his wife with Betty Ann, but we don't ever see the wife or any familial repercussions.
  • Hypnosis and whether one could make another person do something like what occurs in this film.
  • The smoking that occurs in the film (when it was more socially acceptable).
  • CW's attitude toward women and Betty Ann's behavior and attitude being atypical for the time.
  • Betty Ann having an affair with her boss being atypical of the rest of her behavior/demeanor.
  • Voltan briefly threatens CW with a handgun, but flees before using it.

  • Reviewed August 14, 2001 / Posted August 24, 2001

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