|By Mira Harber
Allen's latest comedy "Small Time Crooks" starts off with a great idea,
is really funny for the first third of the movie, slows down in the middle,
and pretty much grinds to a halt by the end of the film. The original premise
- a constantly bickering, working class couple, (played by Allen
and the brilliant Tracey Ullman), decide to rob a bank as part of Allen's
latest 'get rich quick scheme'. His wife fronts the set-up with a cookie
shop which miraculously becomes the Toast of the Town, in this case New
York City. Up until this point the movie really works well. But then the
problems begin - what happened to John Lovitz? He plays part of the inept
bankrobbing gang and once they mistakenly break into a dress shop, is never
really seen again. What a shame - he's really funny and he should have
been used more in the film.
the couple hits it rich through franchising their cookie shops, the wife
decides she wants to get some culture. She overhears a guest in her nouveau-riche
home refer to it as the "sheer vulgarity of it all - the definition
of bad taste". She hires a good looking, slimy art dealer/historian,
Hugh Grant, to be their guide into learning the finer things of life. At
one of the first society parties that she attends without Woody (he just
wants to stay home, drink beer and watch the ball game in his underwear)
she hilariously attempts to wow the guests with her new knowledge of the
'A's - she uses the words adore, apocolyptic, aging and accolade - all
in one incomprehensible sentence.
It's all downhill from there. The joke was good to start, but when Woody
stays home, leaving her "custody of the chocolate chips" while she traipses
through Europe getting 'Opera and Ruins' as further part of cultural training,
the joke runs out of steam. From this point on, the movie becomes thoroughly
predictable, which is a real disappointment coming from Woody Allen. It
ends with a series of cliches, the final one being "You're the greatest".
Wait until "Small Time Crooks" comes out on video - there are better movies,
and certainly better movies by Woody Allen, to see.