Discs Are Rated
Small Time Crooks
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 95 minutes
Starring Woody Allen, Tony Darrow, Hugh Grant, Jon
Lovitz, Elaine May, Michael Rappaport, Tracey Ullman
Written and Directed by Woody Allen
Retail Price: $24.99
Features: Theatrical Trailer, Production Notes, Cast
and Crew Bios
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital Mono, English Subtitles, Chapter Search (28
Last summer, Woody Allen released one of his biggest
success. The film was "Small Time Crooks", and garnered some
mixed reviews but a healthy 20 million at the box office.
While we know the Woodster's films cost nothing to make (and
the actors do it for nothing, just for the honor of them
being in a Woody Allen film), the other notable thing about
"Small Time Crooks" was that it was a tendency toward
Allen's better and earlier works. Not a drama, but more of a
loose comedy. The only problem is though that "Small Time
Crooks" is a big disappointment. After seeing TV spots and
the trailer, I was really looking foward to this film, as it
did look hilarious. However, I was kinda of upset that this
was all false advertising.
Anyhow, the movie is about Ray and Frenchy "Frances Fox"
Winkler, a poor couple who are looking for ways to increase
their cash flow, as they're tired of their simple,
struggling life. So, after convincing, Ray comes up with a
plan with some friends to rob a bank. The heist involves
them taking a shop a few doors down from the bank, and
digging under to go up to the bank and rob it there. Of
course, they need someone to cover for them, which is where
Frenchy comes into play. She bakes cookies, and they become
famous, as the bank robbery goes awry and they make a ton of
cash on the business. So, Ray and Frenchy begin to live the
high life, but they slowly learn they were much better off
as themselves and people when they were cooped up in a tiny
apartment with hardly any money. The couple begin to go
their seperate ways and whatnot, leading to a climax
involving a necklace which I found to be not as good as one
may hope to be.
First things first, as I walked into this movie thinking
it would be about a bank heist the whole way through, it's
not. That part only lasts the first half hour. And then a
wonderful five minutes "60 Minutes" expose on the cookie
company, Sunshine Farms. After that, it's all downhill.
However, those first thirty five minutes are incredibly well
executed. There are some great and wonderful lines, and the
acting and chemistry between the characters are great. Too
bad the rest of the movie didn't live up to that, because
Allen's whole commentary on high society got old really
fast, and the plot became boring, recycled and sort of
What I also didn't like is how Allen doesn't use his cast
to full potential. Darrow, Rappaport (who's hilarious) and
Lovitz as Allen's scheming friends are just used for the
heist, the 60 Minutes part and one scene after. I was really
disappointed in that, because all three are funny, and I am
a big Jon Lovitz fan. However, Tracey Ullman as Frenchy
saves the movie in a way. She was born to play her, as
Ullman puts on a perfect accent and really captures who
Frenchy is. Ullman is the soul of the movie basically, and
she's simply fantastic and worthy of many awards for her
Many can argue that from the mid 90s on, Allen's film
have been a bit lacking. They didn't capture the same
attention as they used to, and some didn't recieve so many
high marks either. Still, Allen shows that he can make a
light comedy comeback with "Small Time Crooks". While he's
not all there yet due to the uneven story, he's on the right
track, and I look foward to his future films.
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Small Time
Crooks" looks very good. I didn't notice any grain,
blemishes or scratches, but there is some slight chroma
noise and digital artifacting, as well as some shimmer.
Still, the colors and hues are well presented and it looks
quite pristine. Another nice transfer from Dreamworks.
As we all know, Allen likes his film in mono. Besides, I
doubt "Small Time Crooks" could have used any surrounds...
except maybe with some music and the explosion during the
bank heist. Anyhow, I did find the sound to be a bit low,
still, nothing overpowered anything and it was quite clear.
Of course, Allen hates extras as well. Here we get the
Theatrical Trailer in widescreen with two channel
mono (!), as well as some lengthy and well written
Production Notes (Allen even shares some insight on
the film, these notes are included in the inside insert too)
plus Cast and Crew Bios. Oddly enough, Allen doesn't
have a bio but only a filmography, but for everyone else
you'll find nice detailed bios and filmographies.
I felt this movie was one of the biggest disappointments
of the year 2000, but Dreamworks delivers a nice DVD package
with some good mono audio and a spiffy transfer. Still, for
26.99 retails, it's a bit of a toss up. Die hard fans only.
(3/5, NOT included in
(2.5/5, NOT an average)