“Scoop” is the latest comedy from Woody Allen. He wrote, directed, and starred in this film along with Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johannson, and Ian McShane. Like his other 2006 film – – “Match Point” – – this one is also set and takes place in England.
The movie opens at the funeral of English journalist Joe Strombel (played by Ian McShane). We see him on what appears to be a boat with the grim reaper at the helm. Strombel begins talking with another woman who says she wishes she had know him prior to her death because she had a very important journalistic scoop. Not able to resist one last big story, Strombel questions her further and finds out that the person who has been killing prostitutes all over England is likely an aristocrat. He decides that he must somehow leak this important story to a journalist. So he jumps off the boat which leaves him in a state of limbo; neither alive nor totally dead.
The movie then jumps back to England where the audience is introduced to Sondra Pransky (played by Scarlett Johannson), an American journalism student who is visiting friends in London. She and a friend attend a magic show with the Great Splendini (played by Woody Allen) where Sondra is asked to participate in a disappearing trick However, while she is in the box waiting to disappear, Strombel materializes in the box with her. He gives her the scoop of a lifetime with the identity of the “Tarot Card Killer” and urges here to pursue it. Of source, Sondra immediately sets out to track the story down, enlisting the aid of Sid (Splendini). Everything leads her to a handsome British aristocrat, Peter Lyman (played by Hugh Jackman). She concocts a plan to meet him, which actually works. He becomes intrigued with her and before you know it, the two are constant companions. Sondra is, of course, convinced that there has been a mistake; that Peter could not be a vicious killer. Still, every clue found and every step taken seems to lead her right back to her new love. Is he guilty or is he being set up? Can Sondra get her story and win her man too? Sorry! I can’t tell you that. It would ruin the rest of the movie.
As I no doubt mentioned before, I’m not a huge Woody Allen fan. However, even I know that his two latest films – – “Match Point” and “Scoop” are not likely to be listed among his best. “Scoop” has some good moments; most of which are provided by Allen himself. However, the writing is a bit scattered and the direction a bit too loose. It drags very slowly, which is a feat for a film that is only about 90 minutes in length. Overall, this is a movie that could have been so much better.
When the movie first started and I realized that Johannson was going to play a bit of a nerd, I immediately thought “this isn’t going to work.” Johannson is stunningly beautiful and has a natural innate sexiness that just won’t be denied. However, she managed to contain those qualities and actually mastered the part with ease and grace. This is an actress who will likely go far in Hollywood. She doesn’t seem to mind getting down and dirty in movie roles. She has no problem playing against her grain. And she still comes across with that wonderful ethereal quality no matter what role she is playing.
Allen was his usual bumbling, stumbling, delightfully funny self. He hasn’t lost the ability to make the audience smile while all the while pulling for this unusually charming star. Even I have to admit that he has “something” that comes across on the screen and pulls the audience into the movie.
Hugh Jackman’s talents were totally wasted in this role. He can play debonair, charming, and handsome in his sleep. This part offered him nothing to sink his teeth into. I’m not saying that he phoned in his performance. He did not but he didn’t have to work terribly hard in it either.
At best, this movie is average. It is worth a one-time viewing. I don’t think that I would purchase it for my collection, however, because it isn’t one of those movies that I would watch time and time again.
“Scoop” is a BBC film. It is rated PG-13 for some sexual content.