A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is gunplay -- harmless and bloodless -- and reckless driving in this madcap comedy that makes a hero out of a criminal character. Grownup ingredients include bedroom talk and a montage suggesting nudity in (pre-marital) sex. Some jokes trade lightly on ethnic images and stereotypes, particularly of African Americans and Jews.
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What's the story?
In a "mockumentary" opening, viewers are told this will be the saga of dreaded bank robber Virgil Starkwell (Woody Allen), a guy so luckless and inept that as a boy he tried to play bass fiddle in a marching band. From juvenile-deliquency days robbing gumball machines, Starkwell progresses up to banks, even though nobody can read his stickup note (they think it says he has a "gub," not a gun). Despite his career-criminal leanings, Starkwell manages to romance and marry sweet, innocent Louise (Janet Margolin), but his bumbling outlaw escapades continue, even landing him on a chain gang. In the end, sentenced to 800 years in prison but no wiser, he hints to the documentary filmmakers he's planning yet another disastrous breakout attempt.
Is it any good?
It's funny, even if the loose storyline just sort of stops in the end. Word is that the original script was such a disorganized bag of sketches that Allen's collaborators invented the wonderful fake-documentary framework as the only way to pull it together. TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN was technically Woody Allen's first feature (he had previously orchestrated What's Up Tiger Lily?, a cinematic prank in which he rewrote all the dubbed dialog for an entire Japanese spy thriller to make it a goof about a secret-formula egg-salad recipe). The filmmaker had already established himself as a self-deprecating stand-up comic with a hilarious hangdog persona, and this plugs the popular comedian Allen and his sense of misfit absurdity and helplessness into a deadpan crime drama.
Crook biopics had cracked the 1960s box-office thanks to the ultraviolent Bonnie and Clyde, and Allen here mocks the Hollywood attitude dictating a big-screen robber has to be a matinee idol like Warren Beatty or James Cagney; Virgil's a stumblebum nebbish who can't even work in a prison laundry without accidents (Allen's slapstick physical humor is on-target throughout).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the purpose of Woody Allen's comedy here. The movie spoofs the "serious" movies that turn robbers into folk heroes and evoke the "outlaw mystique." What about the main character here makes that idea comic? Looking at landmarks in crime-film history (Scarface, Bonnie and Clyde, The Bank Job), do you think Hollywood goes overboard in glamorizing wrongdoers?
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