American journalism student, Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson), who is visiting friends in London, gets 'volunteered' during a stage performance by another visiting American, magician Sid Waterman aka Splendini (Woody Allen). In the magic casket, Sondra is shocked to see late U.K. journalist Joe Strombel (Ian McShane). From beyond, he gives her the scoop of a lifetime with leads to the identity of the Tarot Card Killer stalking London prostitutes. Sondra starts chasing the big story, enlisting the aid of a Splendini. That chase leads to handsome British aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) and Sondra finds that the romance of her life may well be the scoop she's looking for.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Alarmingly, some of Woody Allen's highly strung performance enhancing gestures rub off on Scarlett Johansson in this bizarre misfire from Allen, who hasn't even noticed that his plot doesn't hold water. Asking us to take a fantasy ride with the Grim Reaper in order to manufacture his fake clue-hunting scenario, Allen has ditched all attempts at grounding the film. The plot is a clumsy vehicle for some old fashioned Allen humour, and he gets off a few sardonic lines that ring with the wry jokiness that endeared him to fans decades ago, but they are far too few and far too weak for the most part.
The absurdity of the plot - involving a tip off from Peter Lyman's (Hugh Jackman) recently dead (possibly poisoned) secretary to the fellow traveller aboard the Grim Reaper's boat, Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) - is undone by the end of the film with a carelessness that's hard to fathom.
As for the romance that is meant to drive the film's dramatic conflict, it's tokenistic and feeble; the rush to bed is made boring and so is the aftermath.
But all of this, even the Grim Reaper's theatrical and clunky appearances, could have been excused if the dialogue was sharper, funnier and less persistently Allenesque, and if the key characters were credible. To make matters worse, Johansson looks awfully drab, and high class Peter Lyman's wardrobe is B grade not A class. Allen is going through his paces with Scoop, and not very well.
Review by Louise Keller:
There's a funeral, a shadowy boat to purgatory and a dead journalist trying to deliver his last scoop. Add a breathless journalist cadet, an oddball magician and a dashing aristocrat, and you have the bones of Woody Allen's latest work, Scoop. It's a comedy in the vein of Manhattan Murder Mystery, but is far from Allen's best work, despite the top cast involved.
In Scarlett Johansson, it is clear that Allen has found the perfect muse. From a dramatic role (also set in London) in Match Point, here Johansson is the young ingénue, the perfect foil and accomplice for Allen. But this time, Allen has made sure Johansson is not a sexpot; she is bespectacled (like Allen), wears slobby clothes (like Allen) and jabbers non-stop (like Allen). They fling Allen-esque one-liners at each other, and look as though they are having a whale of a time. He says: 'Excitement for me these days is dinner without heartburn,' and 'I can eat anything [without gaining weight]- anxiety acts like aerobics.' She says: 'My nasal passages get congested when I'm sad,' and 'You have wonderful enamel (looking at Hugh Jackman's toothpaste smile).' Jackman has no difficulty in fulfilling the requirements of the token glamour role. He is upmarket eye candy - in the pool, in the bedroom and in the drawing room. His Peter Lyman is written as a one dimensional character, and Jackman looks somewhat uncomfortable at times.
Tchaikowsky's Swan Lake is the featured music, and there are even a couple of swans on the private lake as the murder mystery reaches its somewhat melodramatic climax. Scoop is filled with the incongruous. Often hysterically so. There is a climate controlled music room, secrets hidden under a French horn, plus blue horses, jet planes and spinning midgets. Allen's neuroses are all amply aired, and the film's structuring allows a natural, if unlikely scenario, pitting Allen and Johansson together as make-believe father and daughter. Scoop is Allen at his most self indulgent, and the result is disappointing.
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CAST: Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen, Suzy Kewer, Romola Garai, Matt Day, Geoff Bell, Christopher Fulford, Nigel Lindsay, Ian McShane, Fenella Woolgar, Charles Dance
PRODUCER: Letty Aronson, Gareth Wiley
DIRECTOR: Woody Allen
SCRIPT: Woody Allen
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Remi Adefarasin
EDITOR: Alisa Lepselter
MUSIC: Not credit
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Maria Djurkovic
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 15, 2007
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.