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Friday, May 30, 2008

SCOOP (2006)

Woody Allen outsmarted himself when he used the lake drowning scene from Dreiser’s AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY in this larkish pic. It led to a critical & commercial drubbing as viewers compared this Bob Hope-like amateur sleuth story to MATCH POINT, his recent perceived return-to-form. Playing a magician, rather like Hope in MY FAVORITE BLONDE, he’s shoehorned into a serial killer mystery with a game Scarlett Johansson in the Madeleine Carroll/Betty Hutton/Carole Lombard role. They follow the wrong guy for the first nine reels, only to find out in the tenth they’ve got the right guy after all. Alas, much of Allen’s scripting & plotting are as slipshod as in one of the later Bob Hope atrocities. But the basic idea, jazzed up with a ghostly helper (left over from his ALICE pic?), remains workable, Woody lands enough one-liners and there’s a pleasing no-nonsense shape to Allen’s current film technique. The cast does well, but isn’t Hugh Jackman rather buff for a layabout Brit aristo? He looks like he could bench press Hugh Grant.

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