August 12, 2006

Just got back from seeing Scoop, the Woody Allen film starring Hugh Jackman (the reason I went) and Scarlett Johansson. Sadly, it’s not recommended. There’s just too many problems with the film:

Scoop movie poster
  • Being Woody Allen doesn’t excuse using some of the hoariest clichés around, including a character who only pops up whenever the plot needs to advance with whatever exposition is needed. There’s a lot that’s predictable or flatly unbelievable about events.
  • Woody is still doing the same type of jokes he’s been doing for decades, and some of them he’s too old for. While he was onscreen, I found myself wishing he’d hurry up and get off already. There’s much too much of him.
  • Scarlett is supposedly so attractive that Hugh falls in love with her (or at least lust) instantly, so he keeps inviting her out — but her character is a boring drip, and I have no idea what anyone’s supposed to see in her. Even in the swimsuit scene, she’s not outstanding, and it’s shot as though she and/or the director needs to hide parts of her figure.
  • Hugh is wooden, walking through the part until a late twist, after which he acts like a different character (instead of causing the audience to say “ah, I saw hints of that earlier”).
  • There’s no reason for Woody and Scarlett’s characters to keep hanging around together. One might assume that he also finds her cute, but given Allen’s life and age, I didn’t want to ponder that too much.
  • After a few minutes, I realized that there was nothing this reminded me of more than an episode of “Scooby Doo”, and then I almost fell asleep.

It’s a shame, because I had high hopes that this might finally be a Woody Allen film I liked and could recommend, but I think his era has long passed, and I was never the right age for it. I say this because I was easily the youngest person in the theater, and there were plenty of people laughing along elsewhere in the room. So if you’re a fan, you might enjoy it a lot more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t so terrible that I regret going — the experience was fun — but I wished I’d been able to like it more than I did.

6 Responses  
Dave Mahlin writes:  

I was a fan of sorts of a particular era of Woody Allen films- the roughly 15-year period from “Annie Hall” through “Crimes And Misdemeanors” – when I was in college. I think I liked them because they flattered the intellectual pretensions of my 20-year-old self and painted a picture of a sophisticated urban lifestyle that seemd very attractive to me at the time. 15-20 years later, none of it has much resonance for me, although there are aspects of some of the films from that period that I still enjoy if only for the nostalgic feelings they churn up.

Of all of Allen’s films from that era, I can think of only 2 that would really stand up on an objective basis today and, not coincidentally, Allen does not appear on-screen in either of them: “Radio Days” and “The Purple Rose Of Cairo” remain two favorites of mine. Both are period pieces set in the 1930’s and I’d recommend checking them out if you haven’t seen them.

I haven’t been motivated to see a new Allen film since the early 90’s, around the time we all learned way morea about his personal life than we ever wanted to know.

Johanna writes:  

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen all of Annie Hall, although I’m familiar with bits and pieces of it, of course. That’s still on the “to watch” pile. The Purple Rose of Cairo is my favorite of his films, which means it’s the only one I was interested in seeing and would willingly watch again. :) I do love the conceit of the film coming to life.

James Schee writes:  

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a WA film. This one sounded kind of interesting though, so too bad it didn’t work.

Apropos of nothing comment, I actually thought about you when I saw a DVD of Oklahoma starring Hugh the other day. It was at a Sam Goody’s that was going out of business, and was like 60% off.

Johanna writes:  

Thanks for the pointer. I tried to watch Oklahoma when it was on PBS, and I wound up giving up, because good as Hugh was, I just wasn’t that interested in the rest of the show.

~chris writes:  

I like Woody Allen the writer/director okay, but I just don’t like Woody Allen the actor. He plays the same character over and over. (Note: His absence one of the reasons for The Purple Rose of Cairo’s excellence.) Still, it was more enjoyable than the usual August just-get-me-out-of-my-non-air-conditioned-house movie.

Little Miss Sunshine is much better. Much.

Johanna writes:  

I’m still figuring out if I want to go see LMS — my brother says it’s good, but we don’t always have the same tastes.


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