Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Small Time Crooks


Woody Allen and Tracy Ullman are married, and have small fights frequently. He’s an inept crook, but he has this big scheme to tunnel under a bank and make millions. He needs a place to tunnel from. They rent a small storefront a few doors away, but they need a cover, so Tracy opens a shop and bakes and sells cookies. Meanwhile, Woody and his similarly inept cronies are in the basement, getting ready to dig. Sight gags and slapstick ensue. The funniest one is when they take their very first swing of the pick and hit a water main. The water is very powerful. We laughed.

Now here’s the kicker. Tracy’s cookie business prospers. So much that, when the stupid bank scheme fails, she and Woody and his friends franchise the stuff and are soon fabulously wealthy. And Woody doesn’t know what to do with himself. Then we get the Pygmalion scenario, with Tracy aspiring (hopelessly, but she doesn’t know that yet) for “better” things. Trying to like opera and French cooking, when all Woody wants is cheeseburgers and TV. She even hires suave Hugh Grant as her Professor Higgins, and he encourages her growing infatuation with him. This is a story we’ve seen a million times.

Woody’s problem is that, once he is rich, he has no idea how to spend the money to have a good time. What’s the difference in betting $2 at the track and $20,000, if losing the twenty grand doesn’t matter? Nevertheless, he witlessly decides to steal a valuable emerald necklace from a society dame, just because he’s bored, I guess. He has a good duplicate made … and more slapstick ensues, and if you can’t figure out what the klutz does after that, you haven’t seen enough movies. This is a trifle that works here and there, mostly when Tracy Ullman is on the stage. She is a delight. All the rest of it is just routine.