cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop
Selma
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy


Click for full sized poster

Small Time Crooks

Rated [PG], 93 minutes
Starring Woody Allen, Tracey Ullman, Hugh Grant, Jon Lovitz, Elaine May
Written and Directed by Woody Allen
website: www.amazon.com/smalltimecrooks/

IN SHORT: Guffaws and then some. Fine comedy for grown-ups.

The links for Allen and Grant below lead to CrankyCritic® Star Talk pages. (We're not dissing Ullman, who also talked with us, she kept tapping on the mic and the tape is undecipherable. Sorry.)

When we were first informed that Woody Allen's new movie would return him to his slapstick roots of, say, Take the Money And Run or so, our first thought was "cool". Our second thought was "I wonder if that kind of humor will stand up against below the belt stuff like There's Something About Mary and/or American Pie". Then again, we try not to make those comparisons, so the point was moot.

As for thought number one, Small Time Crooks is less slapstick than we imagined and much funnier than we could have dreamed. 30 years of writing characters with humorous undertones has sharpened Allen's gag writing abilities to a diamond blade sharpness. In the critic's screening, I was laughing so hard that I went to see the flick again on another night, with a "real" audience, to catch the gags missed the first time around. Things kind of settled down on second view and the rating reflects that.

The set-up is so simple: an empty store next to a bank gives a shleppy, ex-convict (now dishwasher) named Ray Winkler (Woody Allen) the idea to tunnel into the vault from underneath. With friends Denny (Michael Rapaport) and Tommy (Tony Darrow) pitching in with muscle and cash, Allen's wife Frenchie (Tracey Ullman) opens a store up top, serving such delicacies as pistachio creme, tuna mint and chicken chip cookies, as cover. Benny Wachowski (Jon Lovitz) rounds out the gang, but how he comes into this flick would spoil a great gag. This group of dim wits begin to build a tunnel . . . Two. Three. Four.

It doesn't take much to guess where this flick is heading, of course, and Allen's script veers off into a world where the nouveau riche dim-wits try to buy into "high society". Ray wants to sit around a drink beer. Frenchie, now Frances, implores art dealer David Peret (Hugh Grant) to teach them culture. This second part moves the comedy closer to the character driven gags of the last decade of Allen flicks as the inevitable pulls at our heroes, and alien arms loom to embrace 'em both.

Obviously, I'm desperately trying to avoid spilling the gags and so apologize for that last sentence.

In this film, Allen and Ullman roles are the latest in a long line of bickering long term married couples (which dates back to "The Bickersons" on network radio in the 1940s). One has ambition. One doesn't. One yearns for more. One is going to be dumped by less . . . and that last sentence makes no sense until you see the bravura performance by Elaine May as Frenchie's cousin May, the lookout who doesn't understand the meaning of the words "zip yer lips". How May, who was headlining nightclubs with then partner Mike Nichols when Allen was first breaking into standup, has managed to go three decades without a part in a Woody Allen flick is beyond me. (She's been writing and directing but still . . .) She delivers a sweetness to a character who could easily be played as a total moron and brings laughs to every scene she appears in.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Small Time Crooks, he would have paid...

$7.00

Small Time Crooks is fantabulous.

Click to buy films by Woody Allen
Click to buy films starring Tracy Ullman
Click to buy films starring Hugh Grant
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.