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Crazy in Alabama

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Crazy in Alabama

Starring: Melanie Griffith, Lucas Black
Director: Antonio Banderas
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 111 Minutes
Release Date: October 1999
Genres: Comedy, Drama

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Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Before he came to the United States. Antonio Banderas was a star in Pedro Almodovar's sex comedies in Spain. So it's not surprising that Banderas's first directorial effort reflects Amodovar's style of directing, beginning with the opening credits which are similar to "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "Dark Habits," and continuing with an amalgam of wacky whimsy and genuine emotion throughout the narrative. Written by Mark Childress, the film attempts to interweave two stories, set in 1965. One chronicles the Civil Rights awakening of a young Southern boy called Peejoe (Lucas Black), who lives in a funeral home with his mortician uncle, and the second revolves around his zany, flamboyant Aunt Lucille (Melanie Griffith, Banderas's real-life wife). As the tale begins, Aunt Lucille decapitates her abusive husband, puts his head in a hatbox, and sets off to pursue her dream of a show biz career in Hollywood - just as Peejoe sees the sheriff (Meat Loaf Aday) kill a black boy during a protest at a segregated municipal swimming pool. Will Peejoe tell the truth to the authorities - or cover up the crime? That's his moral dilemma. And will Lucille be convicted of murder? All the various story elements come together in a big court-room finale, dominated by the gavel of an eccentric judge (Rod Steiger). The problem is that the shrill, farcical humor of Aunt Lucille distracts from the intimate drama of the teenager's coming to terms with bigotry and racial prejudice in his own hometown. And one simply cannot ignore Melanie Griffith's incongruous jet-black wig and scarlet, collagen-infused lips. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Crazy in Alabama" is a fanciful if uneven 5, offering a few lively moments of clever insight.

Copyright 1999 Susan Granger

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