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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Crazy/Beautiful (2001)



Reviews and Comments

Crazy/Beautiful is a teen romance drama between polar opposites: the guy is poor but studious, responsible, and loves his family, while the girl is rich but always in trouble and at odds with her father and step-mother. It appears to be fueled by a genuine understanding of its characters, and some of the emotional scenes play well. But the film left a sour taste in my mouth for two reasons. The first is that there are forced moments between the genuine ones. Early on, for example, she tells him she was busted for a DUI; he says that was pretty stupid, and she agrees -- but moments later comes a scene where she and a friend of hers offer him a ride, and he hops in the back seat and has a good old time, even though it's clear both girls are drunk. Whenever a story depicts a romance between divergent types of people, it's critical that we understand and appreciate what they see in each other. Crazy/Beautiful does a good enough job at portraying a believable romance after it has begun but not how they got together in the first place.

The second reason is what the movie seems to be saying through its story. It depicts teenaged sex, which in itself may simply be considered realistic, except that it glorifies it as a virtue. Likewise is the defiance of both parental and academic authority: is it romantic for a 17 year old to bail out of an exam to run away with his true love, crossing the wishes of both his and her parents, when neither have means to support themselves and must therefore know they have to return home to their families the next morning, or is it just stupid? Stupid isn't romantic; stupid is just stupid.

A number of alternate approaches to the material could have fixed it all. If the movie had been treated like a fairy tale instead of being so grounded in the real world, the thoughtlessly idealistic brand of romance could have worked. If the movie had been treated like a tragedy, illustrating how temptations that play on our passions can destroy us, that could also have worked. My favored solution would be to have the characters do the right things against the bidding of their own emotions and have them follow that difficult path to its end.

But instead of doing any of these things, the movie tries to be a fairy tale and a morality play at the same time, and it just doesn't work.