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Crazy in Alabama

Starring Melanie Griffith, David Morse, Lukas Black
Screenplay by Mark Childress, based on his novel
Directed by Antonio Banderas

IN SHORT: Good work from Melanie Griffith. Decent first flick from Antonio Banderas, director. [Rated [PG-13], 104 minutes]

Juxtapose one very serious story about a child witnessing a racial murder in 1965 Alabama with a quirky story of his homicidal aunt's journey to Hollywood, where fame and a TV career await, and you've got actor Antonio Banderas' directorial debut Crazy in Alabama in a nutshell. How one story influences the events of the other is so subtle that Cranky didn't get it. Both stories, individually, are good in and of themselves. So let's get to them.

Melanie Griffith hasn't gotten the great character roles all that often in her career but when she gets a good one, as she does here, she goes to town. As Lucille, a would be actress who gets a call from the coast, nothing is going to keep her from obtaining her dream. Not the seven kids. Not the abusive husband who, before the film even begins, is beheaded and stuffed in a freezer. Lucille (Griffith), character that she is, takes the head with her as she drops off the kids and says good-bye to her best nephew, Peejoe (Lucas Black) who, in the round robin or restructured families, is shuffled off to live with another uncle, Dove (David Morse).

The setting allows for PeeJoe's story to focus on the racial strife of the time, which includes the usual redneck sheriff (Meat Loaf Aday) who, in the course of beating up some black kids who wanted to swim at the public pool, accidentally kills one. PeeJoe is the only witness but Sheriff Doggett, still after Lucille for the (now) discovered killing, is not beyond making some sort of deal to keep his fat butt free.

Lucille's cross country trek paves the way for lots of small scenes of interactions with "real" people across the heartland. The girl can flirt her way out of trouble and, by the time she hits LA, she's got an agent (Robert Wagner) and a handful of men in her thrall. She still has that head, by the way, which speaks to her regularly.

Eventually, both stories come back together in a courtroom run by Rod Steiger. His judge is a total cartoon, and would work well up against teevee's Judge Judy, but Crazy in Alabama is, at heart, a light flick. Two good stories. Good performances. Easy to rate...

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Crazy in Alabama, he would have paid...


Dateflick. Buy popcorn. Snuggle.

Click to buy films by Antonio Banderas
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