Small Time Crooks (2000)

SMALL TIME CROOKS, the funniest-to-the-point-of-tears Woody Allen 
film in some time, finds the nebbish neurotic revisiting TAKE THE 
MONEY AND RUN territory.  He plays the minimally employed ex-con 
who convinces his ex-stripper wife (Tracy Ullman) to front a cook-
ie store while he and his dimmer-bulb buds attempt to tunnel two 
doors down to a bank vault.  Hilarity ensues, though not of the 
side-splitting kind that comes later.  Fast forward one year and
they're obscenely rich, not entirely happy, and, in the case of 
the Missus, trying to buy class at any cost.  (Translation:  gar-
ish clothes, big-ass apartment, and a whole lot of leopard-skin 
stuff.)  She also wants to become a patron of the arts and soon 
starts mingling with the upper-crusties, leading to several fall-
out-of-your-seat funny encounters as her "tastes" leave largely 
horrified reactions in her wake.  (The highbrow double-takes re-
call Allen's exasperation at Mira Sorvino in MIGHTY APHRODITE, tho 
this time without even a whiff of condescension.)  There's also a 
little more capering-- equally side-splitting-- before the happy-
ever-after ending, where the Ralph Kramden-imitating Allen goes as 
far as closing the film with the line "[sweetheart], you're the
greatest."  The best players here are Ullman, screenwriter (and
infamous ISHTAR director) Elaine May's sweet-but-stupid cousin, 
and Hugh Grant as the seemingly impossible-to-flummox art dealer
contracted for a crash course on Finer Things For Dummies.  (Mem-
orizing the dictionary, however, is Ullman's character's idea.)  
As usual, Allen is amusing, if arguably miscast.  Really, the role
needs someone both a bit more dumber-sounding and a bit more lar-
ger-than-life...  With Tony Darrow, Jon Lovitz, Elaine Stritch, 
seen in last week's wretched SCREWED, and Michael Rapaport, who
steals the film's faux "60 Minutes" sequence (!) with a commentary
on advertising in nudie mags.  It's a visual, honey.  (Rated "PG"/
94 min.)

Grade: B-

Copyright 2000 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: May 21, 2000

Home   |   Recommended   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Please report problems to
Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros