SMALL TIME CROOKS (2000)

Writer/Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Woody Allen, Tracey Ullman, Michael Rapaport, Tony Darrow, Jon Lovitz, Elaine May, Hugh Grant.

Rated "PG" (Language) Running time: 94 minutes (seemed like two hours!)

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

First let me say that I have never watched an entire Woody Allen movie in my life. I saw most of "Bananas." Or was it "Sleeper?" I have never even attempted to watch "Annie Hall" although I have been tempted to, a couple of times.

That said, let me say this. I wanted to like this movie. I saw the clips advertised on TV. It sounded like a fun crime caper. What's not to like? Woody Allen plays a loser. A crook who can't quite pull off anything even resembling a decent heist. He's married to Tracy Ullman. A beautician, if I recall correctly, whose got more than enough brains and sass for the two of them.

Woody gets a bunch of his buddies together (more losers) and they create this plan to knock off a bank by tunneling underneath the adjoining building from their cookie bakeshop storefront, down the street. While the inept crooks try to find their way to the bank, Ullman is doing a redhot business with her cookie baking endeavors. People are lined up for blocks waiting for a chance to buy one or two cookies (ala the "Soup Nazi" episode on Seinfeld).

Fans of Sherlock Holmes, would recognize similarities between Allen's antics as a comedic turn on the celebrated case of the "Red Headed League."

But what starts out as a fun caper, grinds to a halt when the story takes a "My Fair Lady-esque" detour into the aftermath of the rags to riches story that SMALL TIME CROOKS becomes. I felt the entire portion of the movie that began with the move uptown, and the introduction of Hugh Grant's character, was unnecessary and boring. Had the film ended with the success of the cookie shop, I would have counted the movie a success.

I can not recommend this movie unless you are a die-hard fan of Woody Allen's or unless you have absolutely nothing else to do with your life for 94 very long minutes.


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