Sunday, March 18, 2007

Movie Review: Scoop

ScoopWoody Allen’s latest movie, Scoop, is a wonderfully entertaining crime comedy for the whole family. The story opens on a ship travelling to the afterlife with Death silently standing on the deck. On board, among others, is Lee Strombel (Ian McShane), a highly respected investigative journalist whose death is being mourned by his colleagues. He starts up a conversation a secretary who believes she may have been poisoned by her boss, the aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman).

In the meantime, a highly enthusiastic American journalism student, Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson), is visiting London and decides to attend a magic show by the Great Splendini, aka Sid Waterman (Woody Allen), a small-time stage magician. During the performance, Sondra agrees to be a participant in Splendini’s disappearance act. Sondra is placed in a box where she will be "spirited away" by the Great Splendini. While in the box, however, she is startled to discover the ghost of Strombel who appears to Sondra and, desperate for a last great journalistic scoop before the ship of death docks at its destination, tells her of his suspicion that Lyman is the infamous Tarot Card serial killer that has been terrorising London. Sondra convinces Sid to help her investigate the story. As the investigation proceeds, Sondra becomes confused as she falls in love with the object of her investigation.

Scoop is complete nonsense, of course, but superb nonsense it is. The mostly predictable plot twists and turns are lifted above the mundane by the witty dialogue, superbly delivered one-liners from Allen and Johansson, and the on-screen chemistry between Allen and Johannsen. Woody Allen has found a way to write himself into this story as a father figure for Johannsen and Scarlett is delightfully "normal" in her role. Apparently Allen wrote the script for Scarlett Johanssen after working with her on Match Point.

After all the serious movies we’ve had of late, Scoop is an absolute delight and shows that Woody Allen has returned to what he does best. It is not a classic, but definitely entertaining.

My Rating: **** (out of 5)

Positive Review

’The film is a pleasure that doesn’t rank with Allen’s best but satisfies far more than most American comedies.’ - Shawn Levy/Portland Oregonian

Negative Review

’Scoop is about 50 minutes of plot padded with 40 minutes of Woody being Woody.’ - Pete Vonder Haar/Film Threat

Content Advice

Some sexual content

USA: PG-13

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