Sondra grimaces. "A would-be investigative reporter who has fallen in love with the object of her investigation."
Sondra is a journalism student visiting friends (Vivian being one of them) in London over the summer. Her initial goals were to spend the next three months taking in the sun, seeing the sights, and indulging herself in fine foods - but plans of leisure have been halted in search of a scoop.
While attending a magic show headlined by Sid Waterman (Woody Allen), Sondra is called onstage to act as his assistant, a memorable treat for any young tourist. But during her participation in the age-old Dematerialization gag, the shock of her life hits her like a truck. In the booth with her is Joe Strombel (Ian McShane), a legendary journalist whose recent death has rocked the news circuit. Though a ghost (just go with it), Sondra is surprised that Joe appears to be made of flesh and blood. More surprising, though, is the information he has to share with her.
Upon traveling down the Styx, he encountered Jane Cook (Fenella Woolgar), the former assistant of socialite Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman). One should put emphasis on "former," though: Jane suspects that she was poisoned, and that Peter was the perpetrator. Why? She believed him to be the Tarot Card Killer, a prolific London serial murderer specializing in the offings of prostitutes.
As a cognoscente of hard hitting stories, Joe is taken by the proclamation and decides that he's not going to let death stop him from otherworldly justice seeking. Why he chooses Sondra to prolong his legacy, who we suspect has gone into journalism only recently (we're repeatedly reminded that she, for most of her young life, had planned to become a dental hygienist), is curious.
But we, and Sondra, go along with it, as the proposal is interesting and because such an explosive piece cannot go ignored. Unsure how to go about her work, Sondra befuddlingly enlists the help of Sid, for no other apparent reason besides the fact that his disappearing booth held Joe's spirit. But they get along decently, proving to be an entertaining pair of snoops with a lot in common with Lily Tomlin and Art Carney in 1977's "The Late Show."
Smartly (if perhaps dangerously), the two figure the best way to force their way into Peter's social circle is through seduction; Sondra, luckily, is a hot blond who doesn't know it, the classic stereotype of the woman who doesn't become the babe until she takes off her glasses. She turns herself into Jade Spence, and introduces Sid as her father. Unconvincingly (notice how Sondra struggles for far too long picking out a fake name), their plan works - Sondra and Peter almost immediately hit it off. But things are complicated when our heroine hazardously falling in love with her topic of interest, ignoring facts that are more than just a little suspicious.
2006's "Scoop" is "Nancy Drew" lite, "Manhattan Murder Mystery" lite, and, most emphatically, Woody Allen lite. It's the dreaded type of film Allen die-hards are prone to finding in an age where he either makes terrific dramas or aggravatingly slight comedies. Unfortunately, "Scoop" is of the latter category, a case of fizzy auto-pilot that manages to be amusing but not much more than that. Allen phoning it in is a phenomenon that has been occurring since the early 2000s (just look at "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" and "To Rome with Love"), but I've never been bothered by it - his weightless larks are trifling, sure, yet they always carry a sweet energy that makes them more sugary than bad.
"Scoop" isn't bad, but it's not very good either, and that's no way to go about moviemaking or moviewatching. It begins charismatically, but not much time passes before we begin to notice that Johansson's Sondra is little more than the female version of a cartoonishly rendered Allen, that the central mystery isn't luring enough to disguise the fact that the film is mostly a vehicle for its writer/director/star to spew out half-baked one-liners and spend time with his muse.
And I'm only partially downcast by this distinction; as I love Allen and Johansson (especially when in the presence of the other), there is a certain sort of joy to be found in seeing them trade barbs, in seeing them play off of one each other like some vaudevillian comic pair. But I'm also turned off by Jackman's forced performance (not the fault of Jackman himself), which requires him to act and react in ways no one would in his situation, the entire supernatural angle, and the pestering feeling that the film might have been better if Allen hadn't cast himself as one of its two detective heroes.
But I don't want to be too harsh on "Scoop," since I did like it and since it's inoffensive and can easily be avoided if you're looking for Allen at his prime - he's got a lot more to offer, in the meantime. But traveling on auto-pilot isn't a rewarding thing to do. I just wish Allen weren't so dependent on it.
An aspiring college newspaper reporter believes in signs and the ability to speak to the dead. She has a close friend of the family that is a magician. One day she has a vision that tells her a famous, wealthy man is the serial killer that is constantly in the newspaper. She begins investigating the wealthy man and falls in love. Her family friend tries to pull her out before she gets too deep.
"Excitement in my life is dinner without heartburn after it."
Woody Allen, director of Midnight in Paris, Annie Hall, Match Point, Small Time Crooks, Alice, Shadow and Fog, September, Radio Days, and Bananas, delivers Scoop. The storyline for this picture is very interesting and well written. The dialogue is awesome and the acting is first rate. The cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman, Jim Dunk, Ian McShane, and Nigel Lindsay.
"Did you accomplish anything besides a possible pregnancy?"
I watched Scoop a long time ago and found it on Netflix and decided to watch it again. This was one of the first movies that put me onto Allen. This is a well done movie that has some thrilling and unpredictable aspects. The dialogue is awesome as is the character development. I strongly recommend seeing this.
"I don't know what you've been smoking but don't try to bring it through customs."
What I did enjoy in this film was some of the humor. It has that Woody Allen wit that you expect from him, and some of the one-liners are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. Woody does his traditional neurotic routine which plays well considering some of the precarious situations they get into. At times it is a bit awkward hearing Scarlett delivering lines that are so clearly scripted by Allen, she seems to be trying to match his style of delivery, but I do think she has good comedic timing. Hugh Jackman is the straight man throughout the film, and at times his performance is a bit flat. However I liked the fact that Allen cast him in this role because he is just charming enough that he has you as an audience member questioning whether he is actually guilty or not. Most actors would probably play the part either too nice, or too sinister and it would be a dead giveaway, but Jackman hits just the right balance. A lot of the tension this movie tries to manufacture is in those classic scenes of one character trying to sneak away to look for a clue hoping that the suspect doesn't catch them in the act. It's such a cliche that it didn't work for me at all. I never for a moment was concerned about Scarlett or Woody's safety, and so the entire movie had to rely on the jokes for entertainment. Since there weren't enough good jokes to carry a whole movie, and the plot was so thin, I can't recommend Scoop. It is not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly not a Woody Allen masterpiece.