Making the Grades
Usually the working titles given to movies prior to their release are bland, but this film's designation as the Untitled Woody Allen Fall Project 2006 aptly describes how this director can get a film made. After his many years in the business, it seems he can present virtually any script on an annual basis and someone will ante up a few million to buy into the idea.
That's not to say Scoop isn't a worthwhile movie. Thankfully, this comedic romance involving a murder is very light on content, making it one of the few Woody Allen films parents and teens can enjoy together. Still, if anyone else were to propose such a straightforward plot idea, they would be lucky to have it made into a TV movie of the week. Good thing this veteran actor and filmmaker knows how to turn on the charm and humor.
Creating a practical framework to allow him to prattle on, cracking a myriad of puns and jokes ("I bought my first Reuben with poker winnings." "A painting?" "No... a sandwich"), Woody plays a magician named Sid Waterman. The storyline become a tad more serious though after one of his audience conscripts sees a ghost while inside his magic box. The wayward spirit is Joe Strombel (Ian McShane), a former newspaper reporter who has discovered the identity of a serial murderer known as the Tarot Card Killer. He has taken this opportunity to communicate with Sondra (Scarlett Johansson), because he desperately wants the journalism student to break the story.
The naive young waif is thrilled at the idea of delivering a big scoop, however first she needs to gather some real proof. Using the reluctant Sid to pose as her rich father, Sondra deviously plants herself into the life of the named suspect--aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman). But instead of uncovering a hardened killer, she finds a softhearted man who is wonderfully easy to fall in love with. Fortunately Joe is conveniently able to return from the dead numerous times to remind both Sondra and Sid about the importance of their assignment.
The greatest concern for parents is Sondra's willingness to sleep with anyone to get a good story. This is implied rather than shown, although the audience does see the characters in bed and in bath towels. Language is limited to a handful of mild profanities and a few terms of Christian deity. Talk of murders and an attempted drowning complete the violence category.
Not as clever as his R-rated Match Point from 2005, this film still holds considerable charm and a few good laughs, thanks to Woody's typical neurosis-plagued character. It's hardly ground breaking cinema, yet considering the lack of objectionable content, I'd be game for a similar Woody Allen Project next fall.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Scoop.
This movie involves an error in judgment based on a person’s image and social status. Have you ever misjudged someone for similar reasons? When is an individual’s past history and achievements worth considering?