Love him or hate him, there really is only one Woody Allen (Anything Else). His quirks, mannerisms and sense of humor are synonymous with who he is and any form of emulation is bound to come off badly. Which is why Scarlett Johansson’s (In Good Company) performance in Scoop is one of the most glaring flaws in an otherwise straightforward, though entertaining story by Allen.
Sondra Pransky (Johansson) is an American journalism student in London, where she discovers the scoop of a century —when the ghost of a hard-hitting journalist (Ian McShane, Agent Cody Banks) starts feeding her clues as to the identity of the infamous Tarot Card Killer. Unfortunately for Sondra, all the evidence points to rich and charming Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman, X-Men: The Last Stand), whom she finds herself falling for. Along the way, she also befriends the neurotic American magician Sid Waterman (Allen), who helps her on the case.
Johansson plays Sondra pretty much as a female version of Allen’s persona, which works more as a distraction than anything. You can’t help but notice the similarities between the two—and the ways in which Johansson’s interpretation falls short. Her lines aren’t nearly as witty as Allen’s own, and her attempts at channeling his quirky style just make her look ridiculous.
A slightly smaller gripe is that Jackman doesn’t get much chance to really shine. Despite all the explosive action of the X-Men franchise, he was always given a chance to show off his acting chops. Yet in Scoop, he’s mostly been relegated to nothing more than the classy, pretty boy role.
Nevertheless, despite the leads’ own problems, Scoop still boasts a simple, yet charming, murder-mystery in the vein of an Agatha Christie novel. The whodunit aspect isn’t as much of a draw as the characters’ journey to the revelation. And the most interesting of these characters—surprise, surprise—is Allen’s. His lines are quick and smart, and he naturally pulls these off with the greatest of ease. He may be the unofficial sidekick/comic relief, but he steals the show effortlessly.
It’s not without its setbacks, but Scoop unravels into a decent enough film, especially for a Sunday afternoon.