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British humor is fairly different to American humor and while the idea of super New Yorker Woody Allen colliding with the posh upper class could be funny it is a point that is made too often in this film. In seeing this film I realized that Allen's late career style in some ways resembles Robert Altman with big ensemble casts and seemingly improvised scenes. This film feels like one of Altman's failures as there is the sense that all of the actors are lost and Allen provided no clear direction to them in terms of what the tone of the film will be and how the central relationship should evolve.
Naïve American reporter Sondra Pransky, Scarlett Johansson, encounters the ghost of famed reporter Joe Strombel, Ian McShane, while being part of a magic trick orchestrated by failing magician Sid Waterman, Woody Allen. Strombel informs Pransky that British aristocrat Peter Lyman, Hugh Jackman, is the infamous tarot card murderer as he encountered one of his victims while in hell. Pransky and Waterman team up to track Lyman down and attempt to discover whether he is a murderer or not so that Pransky can successfully begin her career as a serious reporter while Waterman tags along out of interest. Pransky and Lyman develop an attraction when they meet and both bond when he invites her and Waterman, who she has told him is her father, to his family estate. Even as she falls in love with him Pransky starts to notice disconcerting signs of Lyman having murderous tendencies. When Lyman feels that Pransky has gotten too close to him and may reveal his secret he plots to murder her. Unfortunately he makes a crucial mistake and Pransky survives his murder attempt allowing her to turn him into the authorities and write an article that stuns the media world.
On paper, this film makes sense with a young quirky girl feeling out a charming man with sinister intentions and there is comedic potential in this idea. Allen takes this idea and applies little creativity to the film as it's tone resembles many of Allen's other light muder mystery comedies, such as the misfire Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993). What that film had going for it, at least, was the incredible chemistry between Allen and Diane Keaton who make a wonderful pair and seem so natural on screen together. Here Johansson is lost as she relies too much on irksome little tics to make us like her and does not have any spark with either Allen or Jackman. The plot twists just fly out of nowhere, apropo of nothing, and exist to push the film forward as it limps toward an ending.
Allen himself is out of place in the film and not deliberately so as he throws out laugh lines that are not funny and writes lines for British actors that are clearly coming from somebody who does not understand their culture. Some have argued that the jokes he delivers are not funny on purpose because his character is meant to be a hack and would have a sense of humor that elicits groans and not laughs. There is a way to make that sort of person more interesting than they are here or to explore why they choose to protect themselves and their feelings with lame little physical gags or crowd work at a dinner party. He still seems like the same old Woody on the surface but he has become jaded and cynical as his purpose in making films nowadays seems to be simply to make films frequently. As a director with so many options open to him it would have been good to see him slow down and consider making a personal, intimate project that is in the vein of his late 1980s work.
He is often praised for writing great characters for actresses with depth and complexity not seen from other writer/directors but the female role he writes here is empty and insipid. We are asked to marvel at Johansson's beauty as she hangs around in her red swimsuit and has the camera pause occasionally to admire her profile. Johansson is a talented actress who had proven by 2006 that she was more than just a pretty face but Allen seems unaware of this and uses her like a prop more than an actress.
great cast, but, lame story that wasn't even believable. I think a HS student could have done a better job that Woody Allen
Funny film. Works well. A must to see.
one of the weakest Woody Allen efforts, not particularly funny and his one note acting just gets old very quickly
Um filme irreverente. histÃ³ria rica e poÃ (C)tica. woody e Scarlet mostram muita sincronia em personagens simpÃ¡ticos e caricatos. por ser um filme relativamente curto caiu na medida para um easy view. recomendo.
Scoop would have been better if Woody Allen wasn't in it. The jokes were old and it was like a really long episode of a crime TV show. It wasn't really special.
The fourth Scarlett Johansson film for my review list this December. In SCOOP's goofy-sounding premise Allen takes us out of New York, to Britain, and then straight into the afterlife. This breezy murder mystery has much more humor than murder, mystery, or romance. It's a comedy more than anything, bordering on satire, though it's Allen's character who handles all the comedy and the entire film's anxiety. "My anxiety acts like aerobics," he says. The first and second acts have laugh-out-loud moments. The backgrounds were used smartly, and the audience needs to pay attention when the characters are moving quickly, but the sets are not as immersive as they could've been. It has enough components to keep interest, but doesn't seem to have enough of one or more thing to make it refreshing or great, and kind of leaves an impression it's not much of anything. Sondra and Peter's romance seems devoid of actual romance, and maybe that's the point of it ... ? Two preoccupied characters, one trying to solve a mystery, another an elite aristocrat, simply attracted to one another's features and status. Even when the characters are missing characterization, Allen, Johansson, Jackman, and McShane, and a little Charles Dance (though I kept expecting some Lannister ruthlessness, even if this was pre-GoT) all carry the whole film. And all the perplexed looks from the supporting characters when Sid is talking is great.
What this movie does do, somehow, is work as an odd preview for THE PRESTIGE.
#woodyallenretro Podcast Project
A mellow return to what feels like a manhattan murder mystery 2.0 - although this movie is perfectly serviceable in it's own right it is also more of the same and does nothing particularly standout. Cast as always is top notch with Scar-Jo giving us a great execution of of Woody persona - Ian Mcshane is... as always great BUT not given the meaty part he or we deserve to see and although a pleasant surprise to see Mr Jackman in all his humbleness we still wish this movie had an X factor to make it stand out from similar in Woodys filmography - sadly we feel it's a light but forgettable breeze - a skip for diehards
what would you do if you know u r falling in love with a murderer despite the fact that YOU already knew or u r suspecting?hahaha scary isn't it but kinda fun though....yes woody Allen has done this movie beautifully as he always does....he mixed mystery and thriller with romance and drama and comedy of course.he is quite successful to hold his audience stick to the end of the movie... i m a big fan of woody Allen...so i always love watching his movies...this movie is no exception...he presented mystery with completely a different perspective....i hope everybody would love this movie....& no wonder Scarlett is as always a charmer so she let this movie more interesting to watch.... but sadly didn't find Hugh jackman so spontaneous in this movie as the way he basically is....maybe he didn't have so much to do in this movie....but overall its a complete entertainment....worth my time
Scarlett Johansson badly portrays a geeky reporter. However Hugh Jackman gives a wonderfully charming performance as well as an interestingly funny performance by Woody Allen. A laughable mystery element and the lead not putting her all into it gives a bellow average Allen film. But for him that's just middle of the road. It's worth watching but don't be surprised if you don't enjoy it.