A Film Review By Jason L. King
| Starring: Scarlett Johansen, Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman
Directed By: Woody Allen
Rated: PG-13 for sexual content
Review Posted: August 11, 2006
The Famous people never get caught. That’s what history will teach you. As you look back at some of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries, you will find that quite often you will find a conspiracy kook somewhere that can link it to a wealthy or famous person. Now I know there are exceptions to that rule, but the more you delve into it, you find it to be more and more true. Movies love to exploit that idea as well, the wonderfully charming wealthy person is always behind the most sinister of plots. No matter what the setting, and no matter how many times we see it, we as viewers flock to it. Perhaps it is our own evil nature to want to see an authority figure being brought down off his pedestal. Perhaps that’s the same reason people go and see Woody Allen films. The famed Annie Hall director has tried for years to achieve his Annie Hall fame once more, but as viewers we are watching a great auteur slowly watch his success sink further and further away from him.
Scoop is Allen’s latest attempt at rekindling his film career. Once again starring his new found favorite starlet, Scarlett Johansen, Allen weaves that tale of a young investigative reporter (Johansen) who begins to fall for wealthy British Duke (Hugh Jackman) whom she initially believes is the famed tarot card killer. Allen also guest stars in the film, playing his trademark neurotic self, this time as vaudevillian magician who is helping the young reporter figure out the truth.
Scoop has all the traditional Woody Allen trademarks that we have come to know and love over the years in his films. Allen takes great care when setting up a scene and uses everything around him to create that perfect looking picture. Allen knows how setting is key in a good story and you can tell that he truly loves where he is filming. The famed director, who in the past has always been partial to New York, once again retreats to London once again showing off the beauty of a city it is very obvious he loves. Long shots of vibrant scenery and beautiful colors sows off the city’s beauty as well as helps enhance the tale. We also have Allen, reprising the role he always does, that neurotic mess that stutters, stammers and fumbles his way through life. No matter how many times you see it, a Woody Allen fan will tell you that it is still fun to watch.
Scoop once again teams Allen up with Scarlett Johansen, who previously worked with Allen on the film Matchpoint last year. Scarlett proves that she is a versatile actor, taking on the comedic role of the innocent inquisitive reporter with her own finesse. The character is a complete change of how we normally see Johansen in a film, and she manages to do a decent job in the role. However she never fully falls into character. She seems to be waivering between a serous character and a neurotic Woody Allen like character. Her co-star, Hugh Jackman proves that he can lay on the charm and does wonders for the wealthy aristocrat character. Jackman continues to impress me with each film of his I see. No matter what the context, Jackman can play the role.
Where Scoop goes wrong though is in the story line. Allen’s script seems awkward, disjointed and a mess. Where those words can perfectly describe a Woody Allen character, one would hope his script would not follow suit. Jackman and Johansen do a great job of acting in this film, but they don’t push the envelope with their characters. Both are too tame for their roles, and when side by side to Woody Allen himself, they seem out of place in Woody’s fast talking, zany dialog.
Allen proves to be the best part of his own film. He plays his over the top character to a tee. The problem is his character is so zany, that it comes off as more awkward than anything else. Scenes with Allen in them, while littered with some outstanding little quips, tend to just feel awkward. Perhaps the famed director was going for that idea, but it felt a little too forced for my liking.
As I look back on Scoop, I’m not going to say by any means it is a terrible film. The problem is, I have come to expect a little more from Allen and he hasn’t delivered in a few years. Matchpoint, while a great film is not your traditional Allen film, and before that Melinda and Melinda was a disappointment. Prior to that we had Hollywood Ending, which has it’s moments of charm, but once again never comes close to Allen’s pinnacle of success. If you’re an avid Woody Allen fan, or new to Woody Allen films and want to give it a chance, check it out as a rental. The film is beautifully shot, and sports a great cast. The problem is it will leave you salivating for more, and you’ll end up wanting to relive or perhaps experience Annie Hall all over again soon after, which then begs the question, “Why didn’t you just rent Annie Hall in the first place?”