Scarlet Johansson


-Woody Allen: "She’s a total joy. It’s like I hit the lottery or something. She simply has everything. She just lucked out in life; she’s beautiful, sexy, very bright, funny, nice, quick-minded, easy to work with. She’s got range; dramatically powerful, and funny when you need her to be funny. There are certain people I’ve worked with over the years – Diane Keaton was one – who were just hit with the talent stick and had it all. And Scarlett has got it all. She lights up the set when she comes on; the crew loves her. She’s full of energy, and infuses the whole set with positive feeling all the time. It’s a treat to work with her, and I’m not just saying this as her costar; everyone in the company looked forward to working with her on the second picture after the first picture’s experience." [4]


-Woody Allen: "Oh, [Scarlet Johansson] leaves me for dead. laughs I mean, she’s one of those people that always – offstage or on – always tops me. No matter how good a line I come up with – when we’re putting each other down, teasing each other, whatever – she always nails me last, and best. Of course, that, to me, earns a lot of respect. Because I always think that I’m quick and witty, and so when someone outguns me consistently, I’m just amazed by it. But it’s true – and everyone on the set will tell you that." [4]


-One of the movie’s biggest surprises is that Johansson and Allen actually have decent comic chemistry together. Johansson claimed their in-movie relationship mirrors the one they have in real life, which shines through in that they seem relaxed and comfortable, unlike many of Allen’s other recent female co-stars (Tea Leoni, Debra Messing, Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron) who were at times painfully awkward around him. [2]


-Despite their compatibility, after working with Johansson on several films, Allen decided they should take a break: “I have every intention of working with her again, but I just didn’t think it was a great idea for either one of us to work together too intensely, picture after picture. I didn’t want her to be burdened by, ‘Oh, she’s in all the Woody Allen pictures, it’s so predictable,’ and she’s my new muse, and all that silliness.” Johansson does not share his opinion: “I don’t think anything’s played out. I’m waiting for him to write my Citizen Kane.” [9]

"Scoop" Screening Companion

-Runtime: 96 minutes

-Released on July 28, 2006 (limited)

-Production Company: BBC Films

-Distributor: Focus Features

-Rated PG-13

-Budget: $4 million (estimated) [1]

-Gross: $10 million [1], $39.2 million worldwide [3]

-Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

The pleasure you take in Scoop depends entirely on how much slack you're willing to cut Woody Allen. Has the reservoir of goodwill, left empty after a half-decade drought, been replenished by Match Point? Or have the accumulated disappointments of a faltering legend bred an enduring skepticism? Sad to say, Scoop is as limp, lazy, and inconsequential as any of Allen's trifles from the last dozen or so years. But then there are the laughs. Not huge ones, but plenty enough, and sustained throughout a breezy 90 minutes. At the center of it all is Woody himself, doing shtick we’ve seen so many times that it should be stale but isn’t. A jerrybuilt stage for a vintage performance, Scoop relies in no small part on Allen's timeless schlemiel, a love-him-or-hate-him icon that, at his funniest, can still salvage a blown scene or a ragged movie. [8]


-Woody Allen: "If it was up to me I would do many more dramatic films. Possibly for the remaining films that I do I will concentrate more (on that). I made a film right after Match Point called Scoop, which is a very light comedy. While, hopefully, people find it amusing I found while I was working on it that I was not enjoying myself as much as I enjoyed doing Match Point. [7]



-Woody Allen: "Well, I was thinking of those murder mystery stories that gave me pleasure when I was younger, whether they were comic or – more usually – serious. One of my own favorite films of mine is Manhattan Murder Mystery – and I like that kind of a film. I liked the Thin Man films when I used to see them as a younger person, and certain Bob Hope murder mysteries that I would see when I was younger, and of course the many non-comic suspense pictures…from Hitchcock all the way down to other good ones that were made over the years. You know, when you’re making one that’s comic, you can’t really be as effective as when you’re doing it seriously. But there’s nothing I could do about that; this was a comic film, and I wanted to keep it light – even broad, in spots. It’s a type of film that I myself get pleasure out of watching, and pleasure out of doing. Whether an audience will get pleasure out of seeing it, I can only hope." [4]


Critical Reception


-Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "You may recall that the 1977 Oscar-winner "Annie Hall" was originally envisioned as a comic murder mystery, but Allen decided to concentrate on the romantic comedy instead. He resurrected some of the discarded "Annie Hall" stuff for "Manhattan Murder Mystery" (also co-starring Diane Keaton) sixteen years later. "Scoop" feels like the leftovers from that, after they've been strained through "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion." Does it mean anything anymore to describe a new Woody Allen movie as "minor Woody Allen"? He's been stuck in minor for so long, "Match Point" looked like major to some. "Bullets Over Broadway" was a delightful comedy, but in 1994 it seemed lightweight -- even compared to "Love and Death." After the likes of "Celebrity," "Small Time Crooks," "Jade Scorpion," "Hollywood Ending" and the aptly titled "Anything Else," you wonder what Allen could possibly mean when he says "Scoop" will be his last comedy.


-Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post called it the "worst movie Woody Allen has ever made": Basically the movie decodes into a Hardy Boys-level mystery. It's not, of course, that comedies must display documentary realism on this sort of thing. You forgive anything in a movie if it's funny. Scoop is never funny enough — except for the odd, whiny Allen gibe, mainly because it recalls better days — to achieve this dispensation; the lack of realism becomes a crippling attribute. This gives nobody, least of all me, any pleasure, but a truth must be faced: Scoop is the worst movie Woody Allen has ever made.[3]


-At the other extreme, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle, who also gave positive reviews to Allen's Melinda and Melinda, called it "the funniest movie of the year so far" and Allen's funniest film in a decade. He also said: Scoop has something Match Point didn't, something that none of Allen's films have had to quite this degree in 10 years. It's really, really funny. Not funny "heh-heh", but laugh-out-loud funny. Funny like you walk out wanting to tell your friends its best lines. Funny like you're walking down the street and remember a moment and start laughing like an idiot. Woody Allen has written himself an ideal role, creating a character and a situation that result in a continuous stream of winning bits. And he's paired himself with a partner in Scarlett Johansson who brings deftness and freshness to Allen's familiar comic universe.[3]


-Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called it "not especially funny yet oddly appealing": Mr. Allen doesn’t seem to be working terribly hard in Scoop, and while that makes for some apparent goofs and lots of ragged edges, it gives the whole thing a pleasantly carefree vibe. After the first 20 or so clunky minutes, the film settles into a groove and then, ever so slightly, deepens. Mr. Allen’s invocation of the Thin Man films in an interview makes sense, even if he’s no William Powell and Ms. Johansson is certainly no Myrna Loy. Scoop was made by someone who understands that what makes the “Thin Man” series enduring isn’t whodunit and why, but the way Nick and Nora look at each other as they sip their martinis, Asta nipping at their heels.[3]


-Ty Burr of The Boston Globe called it "fluffy, fatally implausible farce": You can assume this kind of humor goes over well with the Europeans who are the director's financial backers and primary audience these days. Like Charlie Chaplin in his final years, Allen has found refuge in exile, far from the US audiences who have turned their backs on him (because we're lowbrow slobs or because his films have stopped being very good; your call). When we see him onstage as The Great Splendini, Allen even eerily resembles Chaplin in Limelight, shyly smiling out at the audience with the comedian's eternal hope of unconditional love. Does he see anything besides the beautiful young woman and himself? Sweet and woebegone, Scoop says no.[3]


-"Allen is like an addict to laziness and here he has had a relapse...Now it seems like Allen does movies, not from a genuine love of film but because he can’t be retired. It is like the man has no hobbies and no friends to hang out with so doing something like Jade Scorpion is a better thing to do during the work week rather than sitting at home doing nothing. The ideas for his comedies lately have been rejected joke concepts that he keeps in a dresser drawer that he blows the dust off of. It doesn’t help he makes cracks that he only does one take with actors because he would rather be at the Knicks game than doing this. [6]


-Every Woody Allen Movie website critic wrote, "In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Allen was as innovative and modern as any director, but he seems to have regressed with age. Scoop is more cluelessly, obliviously old-fashioned than any other ‘00s movie I can recall. If it had opened with a title card saying “London, 1965” that would have explained a few things. As it is, we’re left being asked to believe that a Brooklyn magician named Splendini would be selling out theatres in London in 2006 and that college journalists are out tracking down “scoops” in foreign cities with their pads of paper and pencils." [2]


-Scoop’s Rotten Tomatoes score of 39% is the lowest of any of Allen’s films.


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[3] - Wikipedia

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-Hugh Jackman called Scoop " one of my favorite film experiences to date.” [5]


-The lead character (originally an adult journalist) was tailored specifically to Johansson, whom Woody Allen observed as having an unused "funny" quality about her while working on the previous film Match Point. [1]


-Since Match Point was a financial and critical failure in Britain, and Scarlet Johansson's lack of star power in the UK, Woody wasn't able to find distribution in England. Scoop is the second of Woody Allen's films (the other being Hollywood Ending) not to have a UK theatrical release. [10]


-The song that plays at the end of the movie, and used predominately as the theme throughout is called "In The Hall of the Mountain King". [1]

Woody's Modern Era - Part 2: The Yo-Yo Effect


-Coming off the financial and creative success of Match Point, audiences were eager to see what Woody had in store next. After reading review, after review of Match Point proclaiming, "Woody's Back from the Dead," "Woody's Comeback" and so on, eyes were once again on Woody. Unfortunately, those headlines were a bit premature. Although Scoop was largely seen as a light enjoyable comedy, audiences and critic expected much more after Match Point. [WAW]


-What started to creep into Woody's modern era of filmmaking (2005-present) was a yo-yo effect. Unlike the 15 years prior of long stretches of sub-par films followed by a standout, Woody moved into a more predictable and tighter schedule of quality films. [WAW]


-The standout, Vicky Christina Barcelona followed the two "duds" of Scoop and Cassandra's Dream. The hugely successful, Best Picture nominee, Midnight in Paris followed another two "duds" of Whatever Works and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. After the "dud" of To Rome with Love we got another "return to form" and "comeback" in the form of Blue Jasmine. (See "Bird's Eye View" graph at left/top.) [WAW]


-Although audiences and critics like to simplify Woody's movies down to a "good" or "bad rating, in reality, the films Woody put out during his "Modern Era" are overwhelmingly of good quality. (See "Close-up"graph left/bottom). So much so, the quality streak harkens back to his output in the early-to-mid 1980s. Maybe critics and audiences don't want to admit it, but Woody is currently on a hot streak. [WAW]