SMALL TIME CROOKS

Review by Dave Smith

Just to see Tracy Ullman and Elaine May in the same movie should be enough for some people. Neither are seen enough on the silver screen. How Woody Allen talked them into appearing in his latest film, "Small Time Crooks," is beyond me. It has promise and maybe it looked good on paper, but this plot has been done many times. Allen did something like it in "Take the Money and Run." This is the old story of a group of crooks so stupid they can't even write a holdup note a teller can understand. I must admit Woody Allen is not one of my favorite people. I have always thought he was over-rated and that his appeal was mostly to pseudo-intellectuals. Maybe it's just Allen's one-dimensional acting I can't stand. I loved "Bullets Over Broadway"...maybe because he wasn't in it. Allen had help with that script from co-writer Douglas McGrath. The result was a decent, original plot. It also had the marvelous Chazz Palminteri and the under-rated John Cusack, not to mention Diane Wiest and Jennifer Tilly. Wiest won an oscar for her performance. That seems to be one of Allen's strengths. He can attract very talented people to his films. Not only did he manage to get Ullman and May but he also got John Lovitz and Hugh Grant to appear in this film. Unfortunately it's the old story of talented people unable to save a bad script. Allen even borrows from "The Honeymooners." His admonition to Ullman, "I oughta flatten you" rings too familiar. "Someday Alice, POW! Right to the Moon!"...said with a lot more conviction by a comedian with a lot more acting talent than Allen.



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