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SMALL TIME CROOKS summer preview

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STARRING WOODY ALLEN, TRACEY ULLMAN, HUGH GRANT, ELAINE MAY DIRECTED BY WOODY ALLEN

BUZZ-O-METER 5

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? Woody and company try to Take the Money and Run all over again.

As usual, Allen is keeping the details of his new movie under wraps. ”I’m very wary of divulging the plot,” says Ullman. ”[If I do], a poison dart may wind up stuck in my leg at a bus stop.” This much we know: Allen’s 32nd feature takes place in Manhattan (big surprise), and it’s his last film with longtime producing partner Jean Doumanian (after shooting Small Time Crooks, Allen signed a three-picture deal with DreamWorks). This reported $30 million caper comedy also marks the director’s return to slapstick. Allen and Ullman play a married couple who join a trio of bumbling hoods (Jon Lovitz, Michael Rapaport, and Mickey Blue Eyes‘ Tony Darrow) to knock off a bank. Grant costars as an upper-cruster who tries to school the couple in the ways of the elite — no small feat. Allen says that the only things his low-life, ex-con character is interested in are ”sports and drinking beer and watching television and making his little score.” Though Allen admits this isn’t much of an acting stretch: ”Certain things come natural to me, and that is one of them.” (May 19)