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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.41%
Worth A Look45.59%
Average: 44.12%
Pretty Bad: 2.94%
Total Crap: 2.94%

6 reviews, 32 user ratings

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Small Time Crooks
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Stephen Groenewegen

"Small Time Ambitions"
3 stars

Small Time Crooks is the latest Woody Allen film; it offers an undemanding afternoon at the movies. It’s a cut above some of his recent films, thanks mainly to Tracey Ullman, who’s a fabulous sparring partner for Allen (she’s also older than some of his recent co-stars, which helps him seem younger).

Allen and Ullman are husband and wife Ray and Frenchy Winkler, the “small time crooks” of the title. Ray’s ambition is to make enough money to move to Florida. He leases a pizza shop two doors down from a bank, and plans to drill a tunnel through to the vault. Ray and his buddies are about as dumb as the basement wall they’re drilling through (dumber really, since the wall constantly outsmarts them). They look doomed to poverty (or prison) until the cookies that Frenchy’s baking upstairs, and selling as a front, become a hit. New Yorkers queue for hours for the delectable cookies and unpretentious service dished out by Frenchy and her dimwitted cousin May (a delightfuly obtuse Elaine May). Suddenly Frenchy and Ray are self-made millionaires.

The joy of Small Time Crooks is the unfolding of this plot and the gags that come thick and fast, in the juicy ripostes between Ullman and Allen. The second half of the film is part-Pygmalion, with Hugh Grant educating the vulgar, hotpants-clad Frenchy (who's reverted to "Francis") in the ways of New York society. But Grant looks lost, and doesn’t spark with Ullman, so the film sags. It perks up with the arrival of the marvellous Elaine
Stritch, as the owner of a diamond necklace that May and Allen are trying to steal.

The production values are all fine, especially the crisp photography of Fei Zhao (who also shot Allen’s last film, Sweet and Lowdown). The costume and art departments have done a great job creating Frenchy’s tacky wardrobe and ghastly interior decoration - they must have had a ball.

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originally posted: 02/01/01 13:44:50
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User Comments

5/29/09 mr.mike Ullman and May made the movie. 4 stars
11/23/08 Samantha Pruitt a light comedy, pretty funny still, woody does a lot of physical comedy 4 stars
9/10/06 DK amusing but hardly memorable. watched it last week and already it has escaped me! 3 stars
9/08/05 Phil M. Aficionado Like the glass necklace, it sparkles for a while but doesn't hold up 3 stars
4/26/05 Indrid Cold Almost interchangeable with "Jade Scorpion"; very bland and unfunny. 3 stars
11/27/04 HL Occassional dose of Woody can't be bad! 4 stars
9/29/03 JohnnyXXX I've seen this movie a dozen times. Tracy Ullman is awesome!!! 5 stars
9/27/03 Ingo Truly funny - and it looks soo easy... 4 stars
7/07/03 Jack Sommersby Woody should do 1 good film every 2 yrs. instead of a subpar one every year. 2 stars
6/18/03 Andrew Callaway Less than average for Woody Allen. 3 stars
4/19/03 Ubu the Ripper A little better than Jade Scorpion. 4 stars
9/03/02 AshFan The beginning is so funny, it doesn't matter that the rest is kinda bad. 4 stars
7/22/02 spyguy2 Couple of laughs...Ullman is really good, Allen stretching a little but not much. 3 stars
1/02/02 Andrew Carden Nothing Like An "Allen" Film. Unfunny and Totally Mindless. 1 stars
11/02/01 Hum fun, but nothing special 3 stars
7/31/01 Elvisfan Enough funny lines/actors/situations for six movies..nice return to fun, Woody! 5 stars
3/08/01 Trashstar Provided a quiet chuckle here and there. 3 stars
2/21/01 Pierce Lanson Some very funny bits, good lines, loved Elaine May 4 stars
1/06/01 tnt enjoyable...far from his best though 3 stars
12/29/00 The Bomb 69 funny stuff, Elaine May was amazing and I laughed throughout 4 stars
12/28/00 Monday Morning Frothy but funny. The Wood-man's reactions & expressions are A-1. 4 stars
7/07/00 Politicsman Recalls Bananas and Take The Money & Run. But the cookie thing was done by Albert Brooks! 4 stars
6/13/00 DAVID Bettter than last Allen's film. This movie looses its comedy after the first 25 mins 4 stars
6/01/00 PJ I'm sorry but Woody Allen cannot go wrong, this movie was funny as hell, and Elaine May wow 4 stars
5/30/00 Zatoichi Jones Cute and funny. 3 stars
5/29/00 I found this film irritating and stupid. Woody was annoyingly nervous and contrived. 2 stars
5/27/00 PhilmPhreak Woody Allen should NOT have been in this movie. 3 stars
5/25/00 Heather Very funny movie, full of great one-liners 5 stars
5/25/00 tom rush horrible 1 stars
5/21/00 Captain Highcrime Woody Allen is NO Jackie Gleason, dammit. 3 stars
5/21/00 john c smith light , no big deal ... fun 4 stars
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  19-May-2000 (PG)


  25-Jan-2001 (M)

Directed by
  Woody Allen

Written by
  Woody Allen

  Woody Allen
  Hugh Grant
  Jon Lovitz
  Michael Rapaport
  George Grizzard
  Tracey Ullman

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