Review by Gordon Justesen
Dudley Moore, Daryl Hannah, Paul Reiser, Mercedes Ruehl
Director: Tony Bill
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Length: 91 Minutes
Release Date: July 6, 2004
level. We’re America!”
can’t level, you crazy bastard, we’re in advertising!”
like Crazy People, and I don't mean literally,
you simply can't help but wonder what exactly the makers of the movie were
thinking. Why would they let a movie with so much bite, and potential for even
more bite, be overtaken by sheer sappiness midway through the story?
Here you have a
comedy that has individually inspired moments of gut wrenching laughs involving
the outrageous limits of advertising. About midway through the movie, though, a
story element appears as if it was just included at the last minute; that of a
love story between two main characters that seriously feels as if was tacked on
for no apparent reason other than to possibly appeal to a wider audience.
This was a staple
of many wacky comedies of the late 80s and early 90s; take a wacky premise that
does happen to induce many side splitting laughs and mix it in with a romantic
subplot to possibly upgrade the appeal. Sometimes it worked, other times it
didn't. In the case of Crazy People,
it certainly doesn't work, and with obvious reason. The laughs generated by the
edginess of bits in the movie are too good to be overtaken by such a weak form
of story transition. A movie like this would benefit more if it stayed within
its extreme comic rhythm, and possibly take it even further.
The movie starts
out with so much promise, as we are introduced to advertising exec Emory Leeson
(Dudley Moore). Leeson is a seasoned pro in the advertising field, but the
everyday lying and superficiality of the business that he witnesses causes him
to exercise some truly outrageous advertising methods, or has he calls it,
leveling with the people. He goes against the wishes of his assistant, Stephen
(Paul Reiser), who insists that he should think twice before going to such
How far does Leeson
go in his ads, you ask? Let's put it this way, if I were to quote any of them,
I'd probably be booted off this web site. Strangely enough,
the ads pay off, and the ad agency is experiencing major success for
being truthful, if not questionable, in their methods of selling anything. There
are only two downsides, though; Leeson has been sent to a mental ward just
before the success breaks out, and his bureaucratic boss (J.T. Walsh) takes all
the credit for the ads.
Once Leeson is sent
to the mental ward, the movie starts to take a slow and uncalled-for detour.
There, he meets the engagingly beautiful, but slightly off Kathy (Daryl Hannah).
I needn't go any further to say where the story goes, because it's pretty much
revealed in the last sentence. The movie does have a few more laughs to spare,
as Leeson gets his fellow patients in on an ad campaign of his own, but it can't
wash away the mere sappiness that dominates that remains of the movie.
Some movies do have
the all around courage to stick to their guns and proceed with their dark edgy
convictions. Think to any particular film by The Coen Brothers, like their
recent remake of The Ladykillers. An
even better example is the forgotten and ultimately overlooked 1998 gem, Very
Bad Things, which was sick, depraved, but truly funny, and was all of those
elements up to the end of the movie. A movie with so much comedic promise as Crazy People should've followed the same format, for it would've
been in the exact same league.
I give it credit
for trying, though.
The film clearly
has a bit of age to it, but Paramount's handling of the anamorphic presentation
is extremely well handled. Picture clarity is up and around for just about every
running minute. There's an instance or two of noticeable grain and slight
softness, but nothing near distracting.
nothing in the movie itself that could give off a stellar sound presentation, so
the 5.1 mix does what it can with its limited resources. Dialogue delivery is
indeed well delivered, as is the occasional music playback. In other words,
nothing very spectacular, but it manages to get the job done in the areas it