Film review by: Witney Seibold


            Woody Allen is one of the most prolific filmmakers working today; at age 70, the man has made 40 films, eight of them in the last five years. He’s also, like him or hate him, one of the more iconic filmmakers working today. When we hear neurotic characters sputter and stammer their way awkwardly through a conversation, punctuating themselves with hysterical throw-off asides, we pretty much all recognize the Allen stamp. His new film, Scoop, despite dealing with the ethics of investigative reporting, the power of true love over dishonesty, and (literally) escapes from the Land of the Dead, is slight and breezy and fluffy, and even kind of funny. Is it as good as Allen’s last film Match Point? No, it isn’t. Is it even as good as some of his earlier comedies? No, it isn’t. But is it better than some of his more recent failures like Anything Else, Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Hollywood Ending? Oh, most certainly.


            While being the volunteer for a magic trick, a young reporter for her school newspaper, Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson, the vamp from Match Point), is visited by the ghost of a recently croaked star reporter (Ian McShane), giving her the scoop that a local son-of-a-duke might be the notorious Tarot Card Killer. She enlists the help of the magician, Sid Waterman (Allen) to investigate. Sid is a bumbling embarrassment trying to pose as Sondra’s dad, and Sondra is a bit bumbling herself. The duke’s kid (Hugh Jackman) turns out to be dashing and erudite and charming, and Sondra easily falls for him. Is she falling for a killer?


            The joke is that the more Woody Allen appears in one of his films the worse it is. It’s not quite true with Scoop, as his young ingénue can work with him well, if not necessarily provide any sort of wicked chemistry. It’s weird to see Johansson, usually a sexpot or a sarcastic, in such a broad comic role, and she can almost pull it off. Oddly, it’s Allen himself that brings the most life to the screen. We’re used to seeing him as the obnoxious whiny lead, or as the creepy romantic interest of some vastly younger woman (Allen and Christina Ricci? Come on!), but as the vaudeville magician with a growing interest in investigation, he’s actually interesting. Scoop is not any sort of jewel in Allen’s crown, but it’s certainly a worthwhile effort.

 -July 28th, Focus Features

Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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