starring Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Ian McShane
written and directed by Woody Allen
by Walter Chaw Woody Allen's stock had been falling when the surprising restraint and structure of the frankly-just-decent Match Point temporarily staunched a hemorrhage of appalling failures. Call Scoop a return to form, then, with Allen doing Allen again to rapidly-diminishing returns, spicing things up this time around with a teeny dose of post-modern self-deprecation that seems not so much thoughtful as pathetic. The Woodman plays a fast-talking, stammering, Catskills comedian calling himself "The Great Splendini" (for the "square haircuts," he Rickles) who, as Allen is wont to do nowadays, acts as the panderous mentor for a hot young couple. What's most shocking is that a puff of dust and cobwebs don't erupt from his mouth every time it creaks open to deliver another pun about Trollope/trollop and Ruebens/Rueben (the corned beef and sauerkraut variety). Otherwise, it's The More the Merrier ad infinitum: the old fart helping a couple of good-looking kids get their groove on--with the twist of a Jack the Ripper subplot woven awkwardly into the narrative. It's far easier to identify the Victorian rake as Allen himself, what with his vaguely pedophilic sleights-of-hand lurking in every frame. That's not necessarily bad if the film's about a Tom Ripley sociopath (à la Match Point), of course, but it's pretty bad when it's a piece of fluff starring his favorite new obsession.