Scoop (2006) — A delightful romcom romp

“I see the glass half-full of poison.”

Nancy’s rating: Ah. A delightful romp. I haven’t had one of those in awhile.

Nancy’s review: I have to stray from the cliche of “It totally wasn’t what I expected!” when I write this review. Yet in this case, it is not only applicable, but very important. I think what I expected was a sly, too-witty-for-it’s-own-good, stylishly cool and self-aware romance… whatever. I don’t know what I was expecting. Let’s not pretend like I can actually find a say to say what I mean. But I was kind of dreading what I was expecting. I mean it would be good, but it would be only okay, and it wouldn’t make my heart soar. And you guys know how that is absolute key for me in enjoying a film.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Scoop was the most delightfully tongue-in-cheek movie I’ve seen in quite awhile.

Yet, I’m not sure if that is what the rest of the American public is expecting. If so, I salute the box office numbers of this movie (I don’t know if they are actually high, but, I mean, people are seeing it). But if not, if you are not expect your tongue to be shoved directly into your cheek, then I might suggest rethinking your viewing of this ‘smart and hip’ comedy. Because I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s being advertised. Okay, to be frank, my friend said she knew I would like it and the movie poster and the fact that it had two people I enjoy in it was all I knew about it, and I just assumed it would be a smart and hip comedy. Everything I just said about box office numbers, advertising and the American public was inferred from the movie poster that I looked at. Once. And then I went inside to see the movie.

But really, judging from everyone else in the movie laughing at totally the wrong times, I think that some people must not have enjoyed this movie to the extent they were going to. If you think you are going to see a serious movie, you’re mistaken. And I know that Woody Allen and Serious aren’t words that go together, but there is such a thing as a serious comedy. High Fidelity is a serious comedy. Lost In Translation is a serious comedy. Don’t go in here expecting to relate to any characters and therefore laugh along with them. You are going to laugh and how silly and strange the characters are. But not in a cheap jokes way. Not even in a cool, Kevin Smith way. In an… English way? But not Monty Python English… more like doofus Americans functioning with high-class English murderers. This movie is harder to describe than I thought.

Alright, I’ll start with a plot description and work from there. Scarlett Johansson is the cute, dorky little aspiring journalist named Sondra Pransky . She’s overly honest, she’s nerdy and she’s not as clever as she thinks she is. So, if you’ve ever wanted to see me in a social situation, then I highly suggest this film. She gets pulled on stage by Woody Allen — The Magician. (Actual name: Sid Waterman) On stage, an old dead journalist clues her in to the idea that this English Lord’s son, Peter Lyman, may actually be the famed Tarot card killer! And it’s Sondra’s job to get the ‘last scoop’, as this journalist’s dying wish. How does she do it? Why, she and Sid will team up as sleuthing duo to seduce Peter, while getting evidence on him at the same time! It’s brilliant! But Sondra didn’t count on falling in love! Uh-oh!

This movie feels like an old movie I would find in the shelves. It was bordering actually good, but it still had that old-timey feel to it. But the old-timey feel was intentional. But that’s what makes this movie even more than just good — it’s ‘actually good’ and ‘tongue-in-cheek’ good at the same time The suspense and the clues will drive you crazy, the romance will make your heart flutter and you will laugh, out loud, and genuinely at the jokes. But it’s a little off. But it knows it’s a little off! So it’s okay.

…So it’s kiiiiiiinda like Evil Dead. And I know you are all really mad at me right now, so give me a second. Evil Dead is a horror movie. It will scare you. But it’s not one hundred percent serious. There are a bunch of winks at the camera. But it will REALLY, honestly scare you. It does what it promises while doing a tongue-in-cheek impersonation of the entire horror genre.

Also, I might be stabbed for this, but I’m really not familiar with the majority of Woody Allen’s work. This, Antz and one speech he gave at the Academy Awards pretty much does it for me. I know everyone constantly talks about his neurotic New York Jewish humor, but that’s doesn’t necessarily detail the style of the films he makes. After seeing this, I sort of get it more. I think. Or maybe this was just Woody’s one fabulous jab at the tongue-in-cheek. (I wish there was a better word to use, that I wouldn’t have to hyphenate, because I’m pretty lazy). Either way, Woody’s cool.

Also, one thing noted by my friend and I as we exited the movie was that there was very little soundtrack. That really made it cool. During the dramatic scenes, you couldn’t exactly tell how serious they were being. During things that were meant to be romantic, you didn’t know if you should be serious or laughing. No tension was developed through music — everything was silent. I think if all movies were made like this, it wouldn’t have the same effect, but one rare movie where the tension, love, hilarity and suspense is built through acting and directing and writing as opposed to a blaring audio soundtrack that knocks you out of your seat (see: House Of Wax). It was cool. It was impressive.

Also, I’m think I’m in love with Scarlett Johansson. As an actress, I can look at her and say “Wow, I want to be her” and that’s the end of it. But if she was a boy, I would have an unhealthy and stalker-esque crush on him. Her. Seriously, the number of times I said “She is the hottest woman ever” throughout the course of this movie is uncountable. It makes me mad that people actually think Pamela Anderson or Lindsey Lohan are prettier than her, and that the entire world doesn’t stand beside me and join me in the chorus of “We! Love! You!” Seriously, have you seen her? Most beautiful woman in the world, hands down. I’m mad if I ask a boy who they think is hot and she isn’t the first answer. Boys don’t know anything. My heart was also warmed that this character seems to be so much like myself, well, my I’m-functioning-in-the-real-world-and-I-feel-uncomfortable self, not the I’m-hanging-out-with-my-friends-putting-cereal-on-top-of-ice-cream-for-some-unknown-reason-and-then-writing-about-it-philosophically self. (I’m a weird girl.) But she is so nerdy and precise, it warmed my heart that someone as beautiful as her could be as much of a doof as I am. It gives ladies like me hope.

So, Woody = cool. Different. The soundtrack = a hell of a nice touch. Scarlett = hot. And I will admit, I was even a little seduced by Hugh Jackman. I don’t think this film has any hidden meaning of life in it, I wouldn’t call it hilarious, and it’s not a fine piece of art or even that creative. But the way it is done … tiny little differences in various areas come together and makes this movie very different from others, but in no specific way. And in the whimsical way it presented murder (!), it just left me feeling ‘wheee!’. So, I offer this movie up to anyone who a) enjoys/gets tongue-in-cheek ENTIRE MOVIES b) likes Woody Allen or c) is up for an old-timey mystery with odd hilarity strewn about. In adding the love store, the only word I can use to describe this film is delightful.

*After reading scathing reviews post-writing this one, I’d have to say I’m the only person in the world who really thought this movie was cute. Maybe I just thought it was tongue-in-cheek and it was really Woody’s last big attempt at a serious thriller. But I don’t care. It’s sweet and silly and fun. I like it. Screw the press! Wahoo!

Didja notice?

  • How awkwardly Hugh Jackman moved in the boat-on-the-lake scene
  • How sweet and honest Sondra is (lover her!)
  • The strange, unexpected ending regarding Woody Allen’s outcome.

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