Crazy and Thief: Child’s Play


Montaigne wrote that there is nothing children take more seriously than game-playing, something he understood even before the Wii was invented. Wholly unselfconscious, kids treat creative urges with the kind of reverence that, when employed by adult creatives, often leads to mockery. (Who doesn’t laugh at the caricature of the beret-clad aesthete?) Crazy and Thief, a micro-budget feature from Cory McAbee, provides a window through which to view the childish mind-set at work—or, rather, at play—when the seemingly trivial is treated with gravity. At its best, the film may spur the viewer to consider, if not rethink, the often-arbitrary nature by which society deems one matter important and another not. Unfortunately, Crazy and Thief is only sporadically at its best. When seven-year-old Crazy (Willa Vy McAbee) decides the ink splotches on an envelope form a map of stars visible from Earth, she enlists her two-year-old brother Thief (John Huck McAbee) to join her quest to locate them. While this premise may have the ring of a narrative, it’s a terribly faint one. Ultimately the film is a semi-documentary depiction of two children at play—trapping flies, shoplifting, joyfully running around. The film’s engagement rests on the viewer’s interest in observing—and while the kids are wildly charming at first, like a tired babysitter, one may find their antics growing repetitive and trying. Clocking in at just 51 minutes, Crazy and Thief nevertheless could have been a great deal shorter.