So long as his films were reasonably sharp, Woody Allen’s clockwork efficiency in churning out a movie a year represented an admirable (and largely bygone) dedication to workmanship and the value of inventive minds remaining constantly inventive. As the director’s output has grown progressively lousier, however, such a tight schedule has seemed like a creative hindrance rather than a help, an impression further fostered by Scoop, a comedy even more inert than last year’s excessively heralded Allen drama Match Point. While vacationing in London, American journalism student Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) stumbles upon the story of a lifetime when recently departed ace reporter Joe Strombel (Deadwood’s Ian McShane), having temporarily escaped the Grim Reaper’s clutches, returns from the grave to relay a scoop that identifies a wealthy politico’s son (Hugh Jackman) as the famed Tarot Card serial killer. Enlisting the help of two-bit nebbish magician Sid Waterman (Allen), Sondra investigates – and then falls in love with – her dashing suspect, all while enduring enough stammering Woody-isms to fill the English Channel. The director’s trademark neurotic routine long ago lust its luster, but it’s not just Allen’s familiar performance that renders Scoop so flaccid: also blame that unfortunate condition on a miscast Johansson’s flat, awkward comedic line readings, Allen’s typical compositional blahness, and go-nowhere scenes that appear to have been slapped together without any consideration for jovial, snappy rhythm.