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short takes (1)

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen isn't nearly as much fun as its title. There are a few terrific gags -- one involving a dog and a birthday candle -- and some momentum is generated by stars Peter Ustinov, Roddy McDowall, et al. Still, director Clive Donner has done much more clever work ("The Guest") and more energetic work ("What's New, Pussycat?") in the past. This mock-Chinese dinner is a throwa way.