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Location: New York, New York, United States

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Scoop

Match Point was the evil twin of Woody Allen’s new Scoop. I thought Match Point was one of last year’s most overrated movies, rather skillfully engineered but irritatingly self-satisfied and vacuous – which also describes the badly miscalculated lead performance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Scoop, on the other hand, is mildly entertaining. (It shares with Match Point a London setting, a plot about murder, and Scarlett Johansson.) Allen’s best movies are just a distant memory, but at least this newest comedy is not embarrassing, as Hollywood Ending was, to cite just one example from his more recent work. This one moves right along, with its silly but somewhat endearing plot and its lightweight but charming performances by Johansson and Hugh Jackman. It’s a comedy-mystery with supernatural overtones, a distant cousin of The Purple Rose of Cairo and some of Allen’s comic essays in The New Yorker.

In fact, the only part of Scoop that is really jarringly bad is Woody Allen himself, as a performer. He has given himself an annoying part with the worst lines in the script – really stale, sour one-liners. There were a few people in the audience when I saw it who guffawed delightedly at every one of these clinkers, but the laughter sounded mechanical to me, a reflex based on earlier, better jokes and movies.

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