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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Woody Allen places a large gumball machine in one of the opening scenes to create a link between his character, Winkler, and fellow inept criminal Virgil Starkwell from his other film Take the Money and Run (1969). See more »
Denny is manipulating the box of dynamite as to allow the bottom to fall out. See more »
I'm no genius, believe me, I'm no genius.
Yeah, you don't have to sell me.
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Congenial Throwback to Allen's Earlier Character-Driven Farces with a Sharp Cast
Even though Tracey Ullman is a quarter-century younger than Woody Allen, her spot-on comic turn as his tacky manicurist wife makes her the filmmaker's most compatible co-star since Diane Keaton. Together, they winningly play Ray and Frenchy, a vulgar, working-class married couple who rent a restaurant space in order to rob the bank next door. The twist is that Frenchy's cookie business thrives, and they become wealthy beyond their dreams. Written and directed by Allen, this surprisingly free-wheeling 2000 comedy contains little of the deeper life themes that Allen had been exploring for the previous two decades. For the most part, it represents a complete throwback to his first film as a director, the frenetic, nonsensical 1969's "Take the Money and Run", as both are character-driven slapstick farces with a slew of funny one-liners.
The film starts out strong with Ray and his bumbling partners preparing the heist with every conceivable complication standing in their way, in particular, their own stupidity. The storyline makes a unique turn once Ray and Frenchy become successful. They open up a nationwide chain of cookie stores, move to the posh Upper East Side like the Jeffersons, and start hobnobbing with Manhattan's York's social elite. Their marriage begins to unravel when Frenchy becomes obsessed with being cultured, while Ray is happy to live his life the same way as before. I don't think the movie is consistently flat-out funny like Allen's earlier works, but it does boast a sterling comedy cast. Freed from his intellectual pretensions, Allen looks like he's having a good time playing the unapologetically guttural Ray. Sporting a convincing New Yawk accent, Ullman, the most chameleonic of comic mimics, dexterously captures the ongoing battle between Frenchy's aspirations for social acceptance and her innately tawdry sensibilities.
Michael Rapaport, Tony Darrow and Jon Lovitz play Ray's trio of thick-skulled cohorts with élan, though they unfortunately disappear for the film's second half. It's good to see Elaine May back on screen playing Ray's ditzy cousin May, and her crack timing with Allen makes me wish she would resuscitate her clever comedy routines with her ex-husband, film director Mike Nichols. As Frenchy's Pygmalion teacher of art and manners, Hugh Grant plays to his suave persona with subtle venality. The film ends almost like a parable albeit with a hilarious development inspired by the cocktail party scene in Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious". Allen must be quite a fan since he would later use the same plot device in "Scoop". This is lightweight fare though certainly among Allen's most entertaining movies of late. The 2000 DVD provides the theatrical trailer as its only significant extra.
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