Scoop, my review for this week, is yet another film I’m reviewing by master filmmaker Woody Allen. The previous film I reviewed, Match Point, was much more serious in tone, while remaining a comedy murder mystery. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen, and Hugh Jackman.
Dead journalist Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) is on a boat being taking him to the afterlife. He meets a woman named Jane Cook (Fenella Woolgar), who believes her boss Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) is the notorious Tarot Card Killer (sort of a modern day Jack the Ripper). She tells Strombel to pass the message onto a journalist who is not deceased so they could crack the story of a lifetime. Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) is a journalism student who is spending the summer in London with a family friend. She is looking for a crack story to get her published in her college’s newspaper. One night while at a magic show of Sid Waterman (Woody Allen), Sondra is pulled on stage, put in a box, and made to “disappear”. While she is inside the box, Strombel’s ghost comes to her with the clues and tells her she has to crack the case of Tarot Card Killer, proving whether or not it’s actually Peter Lyman. The next day Sondra comes back to Waterman while he is practicing and tells him of her vision while in the box. He blows her off as delusional, but soon the ghost of Strombel appears and their mission to discover the truth about Peter Lyman begins.
I liked the film, but didn’t love it. I thought the story was original and the concept behind the film was extremely creative, but the movie never really took off. As stated in my introduction, the movie claims it’s a comedy, but I didn’t find it that funny. Maybe it was a more subtle humor, but I just couldn’t get involved in the movie. There were a few moments where I chuckled to myself, but I never raucously laughed out loud.
I also found Woody Allen’s character rather annoying. He took away from the main focus of the story in my opinion. Every scene he wasn’t in I really enjoyed, but when his character returned I sort of groaned to myself. I will say Scarlett Johansson and Woody Allen played off of each other’s character eccentricity really well and it worked in the context of the story. I found myself wishing that they had made Johansson’s character more straight-laced and the more logical of the two. I think it would have been a more interesting story to have Johansson as this type of character in contrast to Allen’s zany magician character.
Hugh Jackman was very unexpected in his role. I always picture him as a do-gooder and proper gentlemen who is very likeable, but his character had a dark side to him. Maybe it was because he was the main suspect in the murder case, but I definitely enjoyed seeing him play a darker character. I think if given the right script he could play a villain very convincingly.
All and all, I thought the movie was ok. Not great, but also not cringe-worthy. As always I will leave the reader with a question. Do you ever wonder where tabloids get the material for their headlines? Is it like a mad lib using random words, or are their stories legitimate? After seeing Scoop, you will never be able to look at a tabloid the same way.
3 out of 5 StarsScoop BBC Films PG-13, 96 Minutes