A director is forced to work with his ex-wife, who left him for the boss of the studio bankrolling his new film. But the night before the first day of shooting, he develops a case of psychosomatic blindness.
Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
Dishwasher and small-fry criminal Ray hits on a plan with his partners in crime to re-open a local pizza place and dig through to the bank down the street. As his wife can't cook pizza but does great cookies, that's what they sell. While the no-hope tunnellers get lost underground, the cookie operation really takes off and the team find themselves rich business people. But the other local money isn't quite ready to accept them. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
Woody Allen essentially makes two kind of movies: comedy and movies about relationships. His very first movies were slapstick comedies and then once in a while, after Annie Hall, he made a comedy or two. Small Time Crooks is one of his lesser movies, not on quality but more on terms of release. Small Time Crooks was pretty much ignored on its release.
Allen plays Ray Winkler, officially the world's lamest looking criminal. Allen and his friends (Michael Rapaport, Tony Darrow) plan to break into a bank and get rich. How? Well, it's a complicated plan. Ray's wife, Frenchy, (Tracey Ullman) is to rent a pizza shop and make cookies as a coverup for the men drilling in the basement. However, to Ray's disarray, the pizza shop is already rented out. Ray checks it out and realises that he knows the guy who rented it. Turns out they were cellmates. The guy (Jon Lovitz) joins them into the plan. Ray turns out to be a huge dumbass and can't make the tunnel under the bank. On top, however, Frenchy is having a huge success with her cookies. She hires her cousin May (Elaine May) to help her. The timeline then jumps a year and Ray and Frenchy have become extremely wealthy. They own a huge chain of cookie shops and are now part of the nouveau rich. They meet with David (Hugh Grant), whom Frenchy hires to teach her about culture. Without revealing more, let's just say it screwed up.
Woody is his usual, neurotic self and as usual gives a solid if unimpressive performance. Ullman, as his stripper-turned-cookie-mogul wife, is very good and very funny. It's a shame she isn't in movies more. The rest of the cast is also good, with standouts being Elaine May and Jon Lovitz even though he's not on screen very long.
Small Time Crooks starts out as a funny, slapstick comedy but then takes a turn when they become rich. Now, the title is Small Time Crooks. I was expecting some crookery. I saw some crookery, but not enough. It should have been called Cookie Mogul or something. I realises that it wouldn't have been very good as an all-out caper comedy but about 20 minutes of more crookery wouldn't have hurt. There's also the fact that this movie lags at times, enough to hurt it. And Hugh Grant is unimpressive in a role that could've been more.
Woody Allen is an acquired taste. You may not like it or you may worship it. Small Time Crooks is actually a good way of getting introduced to Allen. 7/10
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