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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Crazy/Beautiful

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jay Hernandez
Director: John Stockwell
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: June 2001
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Bruce Davison, Lucinda Jenney, Taryn Manning, Keram Malicki-Sanchez

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

I've often wondered about the sons and daughters of political figures--people who are in the public eye to such an extent that we must learn everything about this vice president's pacemaker implant, that mayor's intention to move out of his executive lodging because of marital troubles, and the other president's infidelities with a woman about his own daughter's age. I'd be proud as all-get-out if my dad were a congressman or a governor or a member of a big city council or even a leader of an online film critics' organization. I'd do nothing to make him ashamed of me. And yet when President Nixon declared during one recession that Americans should try to spend their money in the U.S.A., one of his daughter's goes abroad with every nation's camera flashing away. Our current president's daughter gets picked up for drinking with a phony i.d. and the brother of one of our previous chief executives acts like a mentally-challenged creep. Kudos to Chelsea Clinton for deliberately staying out of the limelight and quietly preparing for her four years at Oxford University. But a high school senior named Nicole (Kirsten Dunst) is quite another story, a messed-up piece of work. "Crazy/Beautiful" is her story: she's crazy and her boy friend Carlos (Jay Hernandez) is beautiful. Unfortunately the film directed by John Stockwell from a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi neither pushes the envelope sufficiently to make the picture crazy nor do they do much to accomplish the beautiful. What happened? Simply that "Crazy/Beautiful" comes across in every scene without exception as a made-for-TV movie, taking on a subject that might have been controversial in the 1950s, that of a cross-cultural romance between a serious Mexican- American lad intent on going to Annapolis when he graduates from Pacific High School in California and a 17-year-old woman who acts all too carefree to cover up her depression and even suicidal tendencies.

"Crazy/Beautiful" copies a scenario from Antonia Bird's mediocre 1995 movie starring the bland Chris O'Connell and the lovely drew Barrymore about teen lovers on the run, with Barrymore playing the erratic bimbo while Chris is the down-to- earth Mr. Bland. Nicole, the son of rich Congressman Tom Oakley (Bruce Davison), acts wacked-out whether in he spacious home presided over by a maid or driving to her class in a stunning high school. (We know these girls are spoiled staight away when Nicole's best friend says "I hate this school" upon pulling into the parking lot.) She and Carlos meet cute as Nicole is picking up trash under the boardwalk, community service as the result of a drug conviction. It's pretty much love and first sight, given that Carlos's friends act like idiots when they're around the fair sex and that Carlos project the kind of stability that Nicole finds lacking in her all-too-liberal father--who thinks nothing of her daughter's sleeping around in the Oakley household. Carlos's family tries to discourage him from dating a (gasp) white girl, her race meaning more to them than her undomesticated behavior while Congressman Tom is concerned not that his daughter is dated someone with a darker skin than she but that the ambitious Mexican-American might be ruining his own life.

The story proceeds by the numbers, the soundtrack telling us what to feel in each scene--all of which is a pity given the ability of these two fine actors who really do send out shock waves whenever they're together. For Dunst, this is a step down from the far more challenging "The Virgin Suicides" though the picture bodes well for Mr. Hernandez who has been known mostly for his work on TV. A teen picture all the way for teens who might be disappointed after digging more daring fare such as "A.I." and "Moulin Rouge."

Copyright 2001 Harvey Karten

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