Best of
lMovie Review
"Small Time Crooks"
By Mira Harber
    Woody 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.
    Once 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.


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