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Small Time Crooks (2000)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Crime  |  19 May 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 29,483 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 189 user | 125 critic | 32 from

A loser of a crook and his wife strike it rich when a botched bank job's cover business becomes a spectacular success.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carolyn Saxon ...
Candy Salesperson
Sam Josepher ...
Real Estate Agent
Lawrence Howard Levy ...
Dynamite Dealer (as Lawrence Levy)
Diane Bradley ...
Cookie Store Customer
Crystal Field ...
Cookie Store Customer
Cindy Carver ...
Cookie Store Customer
Ray Garvey ...
Cookie Store Customer
Bill Gerber ...
Cookie Store Customer
Olivia Hayman ...
Cookie Store Customer
Laurine Towler ...
Cookie Store Customer


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Explodes with big-time laughter. See more »


Comedy | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 May 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Woody Allen Spring Project 1999  »

Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,880,723 (USA) (19 May 2000)


ESP 477,699,084 (Spain) (29 June 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Mono)| (Mono)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The quote, "The only thing missing from this guy is a piece of velvet and a pet mouse...", is a reference of "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck. See more »


Shown the house where writer Henry James(whom her husband confuses with band leader Harry James) once lived, the culturally challenged Frenchy announces that James was author of "The Heiress" (which she mispronounces as "hair-ess"). In reality, "The Heiress" was the title shared by a movie and a stage play, each inspired by James's novel "Washington Square"; James never wrote anything called "The Heiress". See more »


Ray: I'm no genius, believe me, I'm no genius.
Frenchy: Yeah, you don't have to sell me.
See more »


Features High Sierra (1941) See more »


Old Devil Moon
Music by Burton Lane
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Performed by Lester Lanin
Courtesy of Epic Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

Smart and funny with a sense of style, pure Woody Allen. *** out of ****.

SMALL TIME CROOKS / (2000) ***

Woody Allen's artistic sense of humor is the perfect style of wit for the timid new comedy "Small Time Crooks." Allen wrote and directed the film, which is pure Allen. This amusing filmmaker brings a focused sensation of clumsiness and silliness to the various ensemble of characters; this movie is classy, sharp, and funny.

Woody Allen stars as an ex-con named Ray Winkler, currently employed as a local dishwasher. He is the kind of person who comes up with maniac ideas he explains as beneficial, but they end up causing more grief than gratitude. His mangy wife Frenchy (Tracey Ullman) is sick of her loser lifestyle, so when Ray proposes to burglarize a nearby bank with his old buddies, including Denny (Michael Rapaport), Tommy (Tony Darrow), and Benny (Jon Lovitz), she reluctantly agrees.

Ray comes up with a scheme that consists of renting a storefront next to the bank in order to tunnel a passage way into their destination. To avoid suspicion, Frenchy and her cousin May (Elaine May) open a bakery offering cookies as the four criminals screw everything up in the basement. The cookie sales unexpectedly become a massive achievement, leading to the characters opening up a corporation that makes them rich.

The film's setup introduces the main characters with intelligent humor and riffraff detail. We learn they are unintelligent, desperate, and deprived nobodies living in unmistakable poverty without purpose or hope of a decent future. Also decently developed is the story, with a clear, stable first act and early laughs to capture the audience's attention from the start. This is the kind of movie that relies on situations to pull its characters through the story, and Allen gives the script fresh twists, active subplots, and creativity.

"Small Time Crooks" is a character movie; a study of well-acted personas given funny edge and dimension. The characters are dazzlingly portrayed by some of the most clever names in Hollywood. Woody Allen rehearses his basic charismatic personality that we all know and love, and brackets himself between witty dialogue and well-cast supporting actors. Tracey Ullman is perfect in a role seemingly prepared towards her performance and Hugh Grant's false charming tenderness creates a despicable image in which the audience opposes but enjoys.

The movie's story clearly exhibits the life of Ray and Frenchy, which is probably the smartest level in which it succeeds. We see gradual changes in the two as the story uses side characters as benchmarks that help to propel the plot along. There is minute tension involved with Ray and his spouse, however, although the Hugh Grant character provides a little romantic competition. If I had to change something in this movie, I would increase the level of the story's stakes and change the horridly annoying soundtrack.

Too much of this movie relies on dialogue to pull itself through story slouches; at times the plot seems to drift and the character end up explaining developments and advancements. "Small Time Crooks" does not suffer to immensely in result of this material because Woody Allen often supports his dialogue with visual story and amusing conversations that look as if especially written for each character in each scene.

"Small Time Crooks" furnishes seeking audiences with effective comedy. So often we desire for comic adventures only to find contrived and recycled humor in stale stories. This film succeeds in perspiring light-hearted humor with a surprising human dimensional touch. "Small Time Crooks" will not disappoint fans of Woody Allen's gawky sense of humor.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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