• Woody Allen
  • 2006

Eyes perhaps tired of Woody Allen over the years were ignited with a fresh enthusiasm over Match Point, a welcome return to top form after a track record which had been somewhat mixed of late. The veteran director is essentially a comic though and so after this more serious filmmaking effort, the audience’s reinvigorated eyes looked towards a return to humour, and to the lofty heights of classics such as Annie Hall and Manhattan. And so we have Scoop — full of promise: again filmed in London, capitalising on this successful change in Allen’s previous film, and again starring Scarlett Johansson — but after this build up how does it fare? Well it’s good, definitely good. To say the critical reception has been mixed would probably be doing the film a favour, but thought it’s not outstanding, it’s by no means poor.

If you are looking for a light-hearted comedy, then this one will be good to make you smile.

The plot may be a bit light but it’s the comic turns which help it to ride over these. This is not comedy coupled with the heartfelt dramatic core of films such as the aforementioned Annie Hall or spiked with the tragedy of Crimes and Misdemeanours, it is a fluffy detective yarn with that irreverent near-slapstick for which Allen rose to fame. Dippy college journalist Sondra Pransky (Johansson) becomes embroiled in a investigation to prove that the ‘Tarot Card killer’ plaguing London is actually high society player Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman), planning to break the story and kick-start her career. The unlikely character heads off on this unlikely jaunt after a tip-off from recently-dead journalist Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) who appears to her during a performance by low-grade illusionist Splendini/Sid Waterman (Allen), the latter becoming similarly embroiled and joining Pransky in the investigation (and thankfully as a father figure, not an unlikely suitor).

Johansson performs amiably, though fairly light in style and in a role playing down her film-star beauty this probably wont be noted as her classic. Jackman puts in a wonderful display though, his suave English gent seeming so perfectly effortless. McShane’s supporting role cements his return to form after the wonderful career-rekindling Deadwood. And in his first acting role since 2003’s fairly disappointing Anything Else Allen is both funny and entertaining, with perhaps more one-liners and mumbling and bumbling than his self of decades past, but offering, as with his co-stars, some very amusing lines and performances. Scoop probably wont appear in lists next to the award-winning moments of his canon but the film continues to prove that Woody Allen can’t be written off, and how he portrays eccentricity and neurosis better than anyone. If you are looking for a light-hearted comedy, then this one will be good to make you smile.

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