Though the middle 30 minutes or so are fun, patented Woody Allen witty fun, the bulk of "Scoop" is listless and lifeless and once again, as he did in "Match Point," he manages to make the very human and thoughtful Scarlett Johansson colorless, bland and unattractive though, to be sure, there are moments in which her deadpan humor comes through loud and clear.
The basic story is very much like Allen's fantastic "Manhattan Murder Mystery" but whereas "MMM" is full of life and fun and boasts a cast (Diane Keaton, Alan Alda, Allen and Anjelica Huston) that actually relate and react to each other and consequently come to life on screen, the trio of Allen, Johansson and the oddly wooden Hugh Jackman...don't.
Once again it is fun to see Woody doing his schtick with and at the upper crust English cast and the film looks beautiful. Also on the plus side is the precise performance of Ian McShane as Joe Strombel: the dead reporter who sets the plot in motion.
It is apparent that Woody Allen has not found England fertile ground for his genius if "Match Point" and "Scoop" are examples of his stay there: for example, the last scene, the denouement of "Scoop" is depressingly limp and unfocused as if Allen ran out of film to finish the scene properly.
Contrary to the evidence here, I know that the Woodman has still got the goods to make strong, witty, involving films. The big question here is When?