After the successfully sexy "Match Point," Woody Allen returns to comedy--and to London--with the story of American college journalist Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) who receives from the ghost of a famed reporter a tip that wealthy, charming Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) may be a serial killer. Allen plays a magician posing as Sondra's father.
Big question: Can Allen again blend English high society with his New York nebbish humor?
Skip it: Allen's stuttering spiel repeatedly stalls Sondra's investigation, proving again that lately the director's acting is one of his greatest liabilities. After a promising start, "Scoop" struggles to find a rhythm.
Catch it: If you want to learn how people get to heaven; "Scoop" depicts the journey as a gloomy cruise along a river that never ends. How reassuring!
Bottom line: A pretty minor entry in the Allen canon, "Scoop" suffers from progressive pointlessness as Sondra's detective work feels haphazard and Peter never reveals any shades of darkness that would hint at his murderous nature. Allen is only there as a punchline machine, and I spent most of the movie looking for his "off" button.
Bonus: Need pickup tips? Sondra shows that a fake drowning always helps make contact with that hottie at the pool. Looking like Johansson doesn't hurt either.
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Written and directed by Woody Allen; cinematography by Remi Adefarasin; edited by Alisa Lepselter; production design by Maria Djurkovic; produced by Letty Aronson and Gareth Wiley. A Focus Features release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:36. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for some sexual content).
Sondra Pransky - Scarlett Johansson
Sid Waterman - Woody Allen
Peter Lyman - Hugh Jackman
Joe Strombel - Ian McShaneCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times