August 4, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 31
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Friday, Jul 10, 2020



Woody Allen's Scoop is evidence that his career as an 'auteur' has rock-bottomed
Woody Allen's Scoop is evidence that his career as an 'auteur' has rock-bottomed
by Derich Mantonela - SGN A&E Writer

Playing Now, Various Theaters

Sophomoric, shallow, totally unoriginal, morbidly awash in self-parody, painfully un-funny & downright ugly. Woody Allen's "Scoop" provides medically-definable evidence that his career as an "auteur" has rock-bottomed out.

Enough, already, about how his previous film, "Match Point," signaled Allen's return to competence after a string of miserable turkeys. Critics and fans marveled at how UNLIKE a Woody Allen film that one was - no Manhattan, no Jewish angst, no Woody in a featured role, just a run of the mill crime-romance yarn spotlighting his two latest fascinations: British high society and the barely out of her teens actress Scarlett Johansson.

"Scoop" reprises both of those fixations (Britain and Scarlett) minus the competent story-telling and with the fatal addition of Allen himself, kvetching and stammering and looking like a geriatric mock-up of his stand-up shtick of four decades ago.

The story is on the level of a junior high drama school skit. Johansson is a fledgling American journalist visiting Britain. Allen is a hack magician who somehow conjures up a dead reporter (Ian McShane) who implicates a studly Brit aristocrat (Hugh Jackman) in the "Tarot Card" murders of several young women, the "scoop" of the film's title. The journalist, with the magician's bumbling assistance, sets out to prove the aristocrat's guilt, and (of course) ends up in bed and in love with the hunk, who may or may not be a serial murderer.

That summary makes the film sound far better than it is. Leave aside the ugly premise that a man would murder many young women simply to escape the clutches of a bothersome ex-flame (which makes no sense at all) and all that's left is empty fluff - but then, cruelty and sentimentality have always been evil twins.

Whether or not the famously youth-fixated Allen is getting into Johansson's pants (a subject of rampant speculation) she handles her role with a sort of bemused aplomb, forging ahead as if determined to have fun no matter what, showing promise as a true screwball comedienne.

Jackman shows off his sculpted, slightly hairy chest a few times to great effect - no stranger to the gym, is he! He and Johansson provide some eye candy in this otherwise sour, sordid, and sorry mess.

Meanwhile, Allen is plunging ahead with his next project and probably more. God help us all. Is there nobody with clout enough or balls big enough to grab him by the lapels and say "Woody. Please stop. Now. Enough. You're embarrassing yourself and boring everyone else. You're pathetic, pitiful. You can't fix it and we can't stand it."

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