The main problem with Woody Allen’s Scoop is that it fails to play the role of a third in a trilogy of recently-released movies about magicians. The first was the highly acclaimed The Prestige (which should’ve been called Batman x Wolverine), and the second, the Edward Norton/Philip Glass vehicle The Illusionist. By having both Wolverine and Scarlett Johansson from Prestige, Scoop could’ve had resonated with the magic theme, and fitted nicely within a new Hollywood tendency. As it does not, it only confirms that there was no such a thing in the first place.
Other big issues revolve around the acting and the writing. In some of Allen’s movies, these are the main attraction, cf. Hannah and her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors; sometimes it just gets embarrasing. Scoop belongs to the same category as Allen’s worst effort to date, the superoffensive The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and it’s symptomatic of his erratic output, at least since 1997’s Desconstructing Harry, arguably his last solid movie. Last year’s Match Point was heralded as a return to form by many, but I wasn’t impressed: Woody seemed to be rehashing Crimes and the acting by the pair of leads was atrocious.
So what we get in Scoop is more atrocious acting and more rehashing, namely Manhattan Murder Mystery. Where the latter had suspenseful comic flair (if you can imagine such a thing), Scoop is only ridiculous. Gags and much of the screen time revolve around showing Woody being Woody, or rather, Woody being less-than-funny Woody. Playing against him is Scarlett Johansson, who is simply incapable of being funny. (Or anything else beside looking cheeky and semi-nude.) You almost forget Hugh Jackman’s also in the movie, because his character is so unidimensional and uninteresting. At least it is to Wolverine’s credit that he didn’t want or have to get much involved with this project.
The screwball comedy veneer is glossed over, as there is absolutely nothing going on between Jackman and Johansson. One is pretending he can’t act, and the other just can’t. Many scenes and plot devices are so unsubtle and heavy-handed that they border on the embarassing. To make matters worse, the actors’ reaction to them (esp. the ghost and the “drowning” scene towards the end) just plunge everything out of the realm of the supposedly superior filmmaking of Woody Allen into Adam Sandler territory. Yes, this means it’s worse than Click.