‘Scoop’ Movie: Woody Allen fluffy comedy works – as a fluffy comedy
Though hardly one of Woody Allen’s best comedies, the light-as-air Scoop is a perfectly enjoyable romp. The film’s basic storyline has already been told countless times: investigator (here a journalist wanna-be named Sondra Pransky and played by Scarlett Johansson) falls for a suspected murderer who happens to be rich, handsome, and quite the seducer (Hugh Jackman) – but what sets Scoop apart from its predecessors, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion (will dashing husband Cary Grant murder wife Joan Fontaine?) to Joseph Ruben’s Sleeping with the Enemy (will dashing husband Patrick Bergin chop off wife Julia Roberts’ head?), is Allen’s unique brand of quirkiness.
Scoop could have been even better had Woody Allen cast someone other than his latest muse, Scarlett Johansson, as the heroine. Though effective as the young seducer in Allen’s socially conscious crime drama Match Point, Johansson is badly out of her element in comedy. Her mannerisms feel like an off-key imitation of the acting style of previous Allen leading ladies Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow, and even of Allen himself.
But despite this bit of central miscasting, the predictable plot, and the fact that Allen’s timing is at times a little off, Scoop offered enough hilarious one-liners and silly little twists to keep this viewer entertained. After all, even a minor Woody Allen movie is considerably more intriguing than the best efforts by the vast majority of filmmakers out there.
Scoop (2006). Director and Screenplay: Woody Allen. Cast: Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Romola Garai, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally, Julian Glover, John Standing, Richard Johnson, Charles Dance, Victoria Hamilton, Anthony Head, Caroline Blakiston, Tina Rath, Matt Day, Fenella Woolgar, Carolyn Backhouse.
Woody Allen movies
Following a series of light comedies and farces in the late 1960s and early 1970s (e.g., Bananas, Sleeper, Play It Again Sam), Woody Allen took a more “serious” turn with Annie Hall (1977), a semi-autobiographical piece starring Allen and his former companion Diane Keaton (née Diane Hall).
The New York City-set comedy with dramatic elements not only won that year’s Best Picture Academy Award but also earned Allen – who was not in attendance at the ceremony – Oscar statuettes for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (with Marshall Brickman). Keaton, for playing a role based on herself, was named Best Actress.
Among the best-known Woody Allen movies are:
- Manhattan (1979), his final (well, for a while) collaboration with frequent co-star Diane Keaton, plus Michael Murphy, a pre-stardom Meryl Streep, and Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Mariel Hemingway.
- The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), starring Mia Farrow – Allen’s muse and off-screen companion throughout the 1980s – and Jeff Daniels.
- Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), with Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Carrie Fisher, Best Supporting Actress/Actor Oscar winners Dianne Wiest and Michael Caine, and veterans Max von Sydow (The Virgin Spring, Hour of the Wolf), Lloyd Nolan (A Hatful of Rain, Earthquake), and Farrow’s real-life mother Maureen O’Sullivan (Tarzan the Ape Man, The Big Clock).
- Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), with Mia Farrow, Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Martin Landau, Anjelica Huston, Alan Alda, Sam Waterston, and veteran Claire Bloom (Limelight, Look Back in Anger).
- Bullets Over Broadway (1994), starring John Cusack as a Woody Allen-ish character, and featuring Tracey Ullman, Jim Broadbent, Mary-Louise Parker, Jack Warden, Rob Reiner, Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Dianne Wiest, and nominees (in the supporting categories) Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly.
Woody Allen also stars in three of the five titles listed above. The exceptions: The Purple Rose of Cairo and Bullets Over Broadway.
Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson Scoop movie image: Focus Features.