(NEW REVIEW) Woody has to stop starring in his own movies. It’s as simple as that. Maybe he thinks we now view his comedic persona as affectionately as we do Chaplin’s little tramp, or big, bumbling Oliver Hardy. I got news for you, Woody. We don’t. We are sick of your every twitch, shtick, and mug. I hate the way you always have your hands out in front of you, gesturing. I hate your high, intense voice; it’s like fingernails on a blackboard. I hate how you preface every reply with “What do you mean?” I hate your stammering, and your stupid confabulations when caught in a lie. I’m even getting fucking sick of your glasses.
His part could have been written out of this film, not only easily, but to the great improvement of the film. He begins with a good premise—dead reporter jumps into the River Styx and swims back to the world to cover one last story—and totally wastes it. I can see no reason why Scarlett Johansson would spend any time with the totally useless character Woody portrays here. He has wedged himself into the plot like the producer’s talentless mistress, and he ruins every scene he is in.
The dead reporter appears to Woody and Scarlett, a student reporter for her school paper, in his magic dematerialization box. He claims that he has information (from the man’s dead secretary, who feels she was poisoned by him) that Hugh Jackman, a super-rich young man, is the “Tarot Card Killer,” who has murdered twelve hookers. They set out to expose him—or at least Scarlett does, though Woody acts as his usual cowardly anchor, who she has to drag along. She pretends to be a rich girl and he pretends to be her father. And here is where it all goes wrong. Woody is the most inept liar in the history of the world. It is not necessarily impossible to believe that he would come up with the idiotic lies he tells—there are very stupid people in the world—but it is impossible to believe that anyone would listen to him for more than thirty seconds. That they stand there and never call him on anything means they are more stupid than he is, and that’s not possible. Jackman looks terribly embarrassed to be listening to this crap, and he’s supposed to be the romantic interest.
I would really have loved to have had a chance to get in the editing room and cut Woody out entirely, then go back and re-shoot some scenes, making the magician less important to the plot. How about recasting someone who might put a decent new spin on the Woody character, someone like Jim Broadbent, or Billy Connelly?