Directed by: John Stockwell
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jay Hernandez, Bruce Davison, Taryn Manning
The main problem with Crazy/Beautiful is that it's neither. Too bad. If the filmmakers had allowed it to go all-out crazy, the movie might have soared. There's stand-out performances by all the actors, fantastic cinematography of Los Angeles' highly divergent cultures, and a sizzling soundtrack. But with pat solutions, illogical character leaps, and a formulaic feel-good ending -- not to mention the worst hair in teen cinema history -- Crazy/Beautiful lands with a thud. The script was written by first-timers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. They're young and eager to say "yes" to whoever's going to give them their chance at the big time. But you can't blame the kids here. Rather, look to somebody older, like the director, John Stockwell (Cheaters), who knows how to put a movie together, since all tech credits are excellent, or take aim at the producers, or the studio execs who approved this project. They should have given it a mature eye and insisted on a re-write. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's wrong with the script of Crazy/Beautiful. But it would have taken somebody with courage to speak up and fix it, to polish the gem it could have been. The story: Tall, handsome Carlos (Jay Hernandez, Living the Life) is the hope of his Boyle Heights ghetto family. He travels two hours by bus each way to ritzy Pacific High School to get the chance to be upwardly mobile and gain admittance to the Naval Academy. He studies hard, he carries the football fast, and never complains. One day on the Santa Monica beach with his homeboys (a terrific motley crew; I'll take back all the rotten things I've said if you give these wonderful young Hispanic characters their own movie), Carlos meets Nicole (Kirsten Dunst, Deeply), who is spearing trash as part of her community-service punishment for her latest DUI. She's one of the blonde rich girls at school, living in a glass-enclosed mountaintop home. She's also an expert at suicide attempts, and a budding alcoholic. But there's a sweetness to Nicole's manic behavior (especially with fantastic gal-pal, newcomer Taryn Manning), and such an intense longing to be joyful -- not to mention her amazing ability to move every limb of her body every moment she's on screen -- that Carlos is captivated. Her dirty hair, never once washed or combed in all the months of their relationship, doesn't seem to bother him. Their intense romance plays out, in touching performances by both actors, against the contrasting backdrops of the barrio and the beach. Veteran actor Bruce Davison (X-Men) gives an astonishing performance as the Congressman who is truly dedicated to helping everyone in his district but can't reach his own daughter. Never fear. Carlos throws caution to the wind -- along with all logic and reality -- and brings about a reconciliation. And he gets that congressional recommendation to Annapolis, too. Dramatic art fails, but love triumphs. Catch it when it comes out on video.