Sunday, September 11, 2016

Small Time Crooks

Movie Name: Small Time Crooks
Year of Release: 2000
Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Tracey Ullman, Hugh Grant, Michael Rapaport, Elaine May, Elaine Stritch, Douglas McGrath, Tony Darrow, Jon Lovitz, George Grizzard
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Following "Sweet and Lowdown", director Woody Allen returned in 2000, with a new release, this one a clear return to his more openly comedic features. The film focuses on the story of Ray, a fumbling small time criminal, who devises a plan with his partners in crime to re-open a local pizza place and dig through to the bank down the street. Since they can't cook pizza, but Ray's wife is a great baker, they decide to start selling cookies. While the drilling operation keeps going, the cookie business takes off and the team finds themselves suddenly rich business people. As their wealth increases, both Ray and his wife Frenchy become aware they are mocked for their lack of good taste in both decor and lack of culture. They hire an art dealer, David, to help them acquire a certain sophistication that will allow them to easily blend with the upper class.
"Small Time Crooks" was a return to Woody Allen's screwball comedies of the 70s (such as "Take the Money and Run" and "Bananas"), while still throwing some good incisive digs at New York's elitist and ridiculous upper class. The film uses a classic setup, with the crooks that become rich by accident, only to discover that the wealthy have no heart and that they only focus on people's bank accounts. It's a fun film, that features a great cast, with Tracey Ullman in particular creating a terrific character, but with equally solid supporting work from Hugh Grant and Elaine Stritch. The film also features the beautiful cinematography from Zhao Fei (known in particular for his great work with Zhang Yimou in "Raise the Red Lantern"). A very good comedy worth revisiting!