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Small Time Crooks

White trash meets class: Ex-con Woody Allen and his bad-luck, bickering

wife (Tracey Ullman) find themselves adjusting to new lives as

millionaires with hilarious results.


Although he breaks no new ground, Allen masterfully milks the laughs out

of every situation as the movie transforms from crime caper to

rags-to-riches farce to screwball romance. Don't expect the brooding

(and humorless) introspection of "Deconstructing Harry" here. This is a

light, broad comedy that promises nothing but a good time. Rejecting the

sentimentality that bogs down most comedies, Allen freely and savagely

mocks the lead characters as they try to blend into New York society.


One of a handful of actors (Jack Nicholson is another) who can play

alternating shades of the same character and make it look easy, Allen

here does what he does best. Add Ullman, Hugh Grant, Elaine May and Jon

Lovitz, and you have a wildly humorous cast pulling off great material.

May is exceptional as Ullman's low-watt cousin, guaranteeing a laugh in

every scene she's in. Could a supporting Oscar nod be in the offing?


Like clockwork, Allen delivers a film every year. Sometimes it's a

disaster ("Deconstructing Harry"), sometimes it all comes together ...

and this is one of those times. Allen is the master at assembling and

directing exceptional casts, creating characters that reflect us at our

most neurotic, and making us laugh. "Small Time Crooks" plays to all of

Allen's strengths and reminds us what going to the cineplex is all


Bottom line

Scandal, schmandal. Woody's still got it.