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Scoop (1/10)

by Tony Medley

Writer-Director Woody Allen has posed two propositions; the first is if you don’t like the movie and the audience does. In such a case says Woody, “I got away with one, or They’re not perceptive, or This is such a piece of junk, - so it’s not a good feeling.” The other is to make a film he likes and the audience doesn’t like it. “You still get somewhat of a decent feeling,” says Woody. “You figure, ‘Well, it’s a bad break for me, they don’t like it; but I really did the best job I could and I’m sorry they don’t like it.’ That’s a much better feeling than if they love it and you yourself don’t get any kick out of it.”

What Woody didn’t cover is when the film is a piece of junk and he likes it. That apparently describes “Scoop.” I say “apparently” because I don’t know if Woody likes it or not. What I do know is that this film is definitely a piece of junk.

Not one thing works with this film. One of the many reasons is the answer to the question, How bad can an actor be? Watch Woody in this film. He is in more scenes than anyone else. He fumbles for words, sort of like Jimmy Stewart used to do. But Woody fumbles for them every time he speaks. He wrote the lines, for heaven’s sake! He still has to fumble for his words? It’s not funny; it’s not cute; it’s not endearing; it’s annoying.

If Adam and Eve had been burdened with the same lack of chemistry between Scarlett Johansson (Sondra Pransky) and Hugh Jackman (Peter Lyman), the human race would have died aborning. Talk about a sexless romance!

Allen’s directing, you should pardon the expression, is listless. This is an attempt at a murder mystery, albeit comedic, yet one never feels that Sondra is in any danger. There is not one iota of tension throughout the movie, even though Woody claims Hitchcock as a model.

The story line is feckless. The idea is that Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) is a dead journalist, but he appears to Sondra, a journalism student, with a theory that Lyman is the Tarot Card serial killer. The locale for his appearance on onstage for Sid Waterman’s (Allen) magic show. That’s when Sondra meets Sid. For some reason unexplained she decides to pursue the theory with the help of Sid, who poses as her father, complaining all the way. I almost fell asleep just writing the silly plot.

Woody’s script has no humor, no plot twists, nothing. Not only does it not have a B story, I frankly couldn’t find an A story. It’s just a bunch of words.

July 20, 2006