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Review #200 of 365
Film: Scoop [PG-13] 96 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $13.00
Where Viewed: AMC Theatres Flatiron Crossing 14, Broomfield, CO
When 1st Seen: 30 July 2006
Time: 5:15 p.m.
Review Dedicated to: Jay D. of Littleton, CO

Lester Lanin and His Orchestra - Scoop

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
I was daydreaming out the window of my loft toward the abandoned warehouse across the street yesterday when, suddenly, and unexpectedly, (does one ever expect something sudden and unexpected?) a ghostly apparition (isn't that a bit redundant?) appeared before my very eyes. "You are a movie critic right?" It spoke in a dreadful booming voice.

"Well, yes," I stammered back still stupefied by this ethereal ectoplasmic entity.

"Go see the new movie Scoop, today!" the spectacular specter suggested solemnly. "Your readers will want to read about this tomorrow. Do not delay."

"But, I kind of want to see Ant Bully in IMAX® 3D, today. You know, a kid who tortures insects gets miniaturized and then fights with the ants to reclaim the lawn. Sounds cool, right?!"

"No!" The fantastic phantom faded. "I'm not going to tell you again. Your readers will be disappointed if you delay." The powerful poltergeist pounded his fist and rattled his chains dangling from his incorporeal shoulders.

"Ok, ok. I'll do it. I can see Ant Bully, tomorrow. There's no problem here, I go to the movies everyday. Calm down."

"Good," the ghoulish ghost gasped. Without further instructions, the vaporous revenant vanished.

For more than 40 years, Woody Allen has been a force of witty comedy in movies and television. Even his biggest fans would admit he had hit sort of a dry spell until he lobbed last year's Match Point onto the screen with huge success. Well, he seems to be, though it's cliché to say, back. The evidence, though two in a row may not constitute anything more than pure coincidence, comes in the form of another London murder mystery called Scoop. The film is so named because it tells the tale of the ghost of recently deceased, English journalist Joseph Strombell who returns to convince a young journalism student named Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) who is on vacation in London for the summer that he knows the identity of a London serial killer known as the Tarot Card Murderer due to his penchant for leaving Tarot cards at the scene of the crime. If she follows the clues and his lead, she'll have the scoop of the century. Strombell doesn't return in any old fashion, no, instead he first appears to her inside a Chinese box during the magic act of Sid Waterman aka Splendini (Woody Allen) for which she has volunteered to be "demolecularized". At first, Sondra, doubts what she thinks she's seen, but she returns to see Splendini and when she does, Strombell returns to convince them both to help him nab the killer whom he suggests is Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman), son of Lord Lyman. They agree to investigate Strombell's tip; and, in the process, Sondra, becomes Jade Spence, nearly drowns but is rescued by Peter Lyman at his swim club, and she inherits a new father in the form of Mr. Spence aka Sid Waterman aka Splendini. Peter Lyman falls for Jade who falls for him all under the watchful eye of Sid even though clue after clue implicates Lyman as the serial killer. Does that sound Woody Allenesque enough for you?

" The chemistry between Allen and Johansson was of Vaudevillian quality with delightful repartee."
Match Point was Allen's return to dramatic mystery, and Scoop is his comeback to comedic mystery. Some might say it is difficult to determine at which Allen is better. On the whole, Match Point's script is stronger and more polished, but Scoop is absolutely hilarious and one of his best comedies in even long-term memory. When he was filming Match Point, in which he had cast Scarlett Johansson as an American girl hoping to break into acting in London, he must have sensed a connection between them and decided to use her again in Scoop playing his 'daughter'. The chemistry between the two was of Vaudevillian quality with delightful repartee. Hugh Jackman was stoic and brash as Peter Lyman. He always seemed to be trying too hard to play someone he wasn't. This made him appear all the more suspicious and, therefore, all the more likely to be the Tarot Card killer.

As writer and director and actor, Mr. Allen shows no sign of slowing down or losing his edge. The film is fun, entertaining, and full of niceties right down to the final scene. I look forward to his yet untitled summer 2007 project with great relish and hope that this will be another great Woody Allen film.

Just as I was about to push 'save' and store my review on the hard drive, you know who returned. This time, I wasn't quite as startled.

"I see you think you are finished with your review," the shadowy spirit smiled.

"Am I not?"

"You have failed to mention me or that it was I who gave you the scoop to see Scoop," the worrisome wraith winked as if to warn me.

"Oh, you want to be mentioned? Ok, then let me go back in and rewrite the beginning and end of this review to include you."

"Excellent!" the satisfied shade slowly slipped out of sight.

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Scoop (2006) Review-lite [150-word cap]
For 40+ years, Woody Allen has been a force of witty comedy in movies and television. His biggest fans would admit he had a dry spell until he lobbed last year's Match Point onto the screen with huge success. He seems to be, though it's cliché to say, back. The evidence comes in another ingenious London murder mystery, Scoop--the tale of the ghost of journalist Joseph Strombell (Ian McShane)--who returns via Splendini's (Woody Allen) magic demolecularlizing chamber to convince a young woman named Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) that he knows the identity of a London serial killer. Sondra and Splendini aka Sid Waterman set out to investigate the accused Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) by pretending to be father and daughter. The chemistry between Allen and Johansson was of Vaudevillian quality with delightful repartee. Match Point stood as Allen's triumphant return to drama, and Scoop represents his hilarious comeback to comedy.

1 comment:

Reel Fanatic said...

Great review .. I just loved "Match Point," but Woody was due for some whimsy .. I'm surprised that even with Scarlett and Hugh in this one it didn't get wide enough distribution to make it to my little corner of the world, so I guess I'll just have to wait for DVD