Decent mid-period Woody.
- Small Time Crooks review by Steve Mason
Broad but slight comedy of manners with Woody atypically casting himself as a working class cultural wipeout.
The film begins with a story that's been told before, about a gang of hapless bank robbers led by the deadbeat, small time crook, Ray (Woody Allen) who lease a store in order to dig into a bank up the street. His wife Frenchy (Tracey Ullman) fronts the bakery and her biscuits are a sensation, so much so that they abandon the raid and become a filthy rich, if eccentrically managed corporation.
Thereafter the comedy relates to Ullman's compulsion to social climb, bringing her into contact with Hugh Grant, excellent as an oleaginous art dealer, richer, but no less a crook than Woody and his crew.
It's a slender but funny comedy, with most of the laughs quite awkward as the new money clashes uncomfortably with the old. We are invited to laugh at Ray and Frenchy ourselves, so exaggeratedly trashy are their tastes. Woody and Tracey are good together, but the film gets a huge lift from Elaine May as her even dumber relative whose remarks are so idiotic that they appear to have a strange incidental wisdom.
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