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Small Time Crooks

They took a bite out of crime. 

Year: 2000 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Ray (Allen) has just spent two years in prison for an inept bank robbery. This time he's determined to get it right. Using a cookie shop as a front, he intends to tunnel into the bank vault. Unfortunately, he and his accomplices find themselves delayed by their stupidity: a water main proves a problem, as does Ray's inability to read the plan of the bank. Meanwhile, the cookie business upstairs is booming - the downside of which is that its popularity hardly provides the low profile that Ray's operation needs. To let out any more of the plot would spoil the movie. Suffice it to say that Allen has the twists and turns of several other movies stuffed into Small Time Crooks.

The film also has gags aplenty, as he returns to the kind of goofy comedy you might remember from Take the Money and Run or Bananas. At times it's laugh out loud funny, and the characters are wonderfully engaging too, sharply written and much more rewarding for the actors than the usual cardboard cut-out supporting roles. Hugh Grant gets a lengthy cameo as a suave con man, trying to seduce Ray's wife (Ullman), but the real joy is Frenchy's dim-witted and ditzy cousin May, who deserves much more screen time than she gets.

Small Time Crooks is as witty and cynical as any other Woody Allen movie, but it nevertheless manages to muster a fairy tale feeling as it breezes through the story with the kind of ease and good humour that other comedies can only dream about stealing.

Katherine Shaw

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Screenings of this film:

2000/2001 Summer Term (35mm)