Comfortable and Furious

Crazy/Beautiful (2001)

I have to admit that I was fully expecting to HATE Crazy/Beautiful. I mean, I went in with my teeth bared and looking to shred. A friend of mine reassured me that Crazy/Beautiful was the worst movie she had ever seen. I think I thought it was actually another Kirsten Dunst movie, Get Over It, which really does look horrid. Since I am an old school fan of Dunst’s, I figured I had better watch this movie and judge for myself. I figured even if it sucked outright, I’d still get to look at Kirsten. But, Crazy Beautiful isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s all right. It’s no Bring It On, but Dunst does spend half of Crazy/Beautiful in her panties or a pair of bikini bottoms. And we almost, almost get to see her naked.

Besides the lack of nudity, here is the stuff that sucked. Without a doubt, Taryn Manning is my least favorite actress alive today. She is awful. She is horrible. There is nothing good about her. Here is the short list of crimes I have compiled against her. First, she was in that awful shit-bag, shit-fest Britney Spears movie, Crossroads, a movie so terrible that I am a much worse person for having seen it. In fact, Crossroads is so bad that if I were you I wouldn’t even trust my opinion about what time it is, let alone movies.

Manning plays Britney’s annoying pregnant friend who has a miscarriage for no other reason than to move the story along. I think that in real life she has some sort of singing career, although in all honesty I could care less. I digress. Manning plays Dunst’s friend and idiot confidant in Crazy/Beautiful and she manages to stink up every second she is on the screen. Manning is so hideous that Dunst begins to look unattractive whenever the two of them are sharing a scene. Luckily, Manning’s character Maddy drops out of the movie pretty quickly.

Dunst’s love interest is Carlos Nunez, played fairly well by Jay Hernandez. Carlos is Mexican, lives in Boyle Heights and takes the bus two hours every day to attend (public) high school in Pacific Palisades. I agree, that is really fucking stupid, especially considering that outside of New York City, Los Angeles is littered with more magnet schools and prep academies than anywhere else on planet earth. His family is really poor and very stereotypical. His older brother is a homie of some sort who never had a chance, so Carlos’ mother does everything in her power to make sure that Carlos gets to, “do anything in life he wants to do.” Yawn. Snore. This part of the movie was so clichéd that I can see why my friend hated it so much. The trick to Crazy/Beautiful is to get over the halfway point.

Crazy/Beautiful suffers from what I am going to call “white gaze”. There is a term that feminist scholars use, “male gaze,” which basically is supposed to explain why women need to feel romance but men would rather have pornographer and hot chicks. I mean, “male gaze” is a way of looking at the world through completely male eyes. All women have to be sex objects, etc. Something like that. My point is, the dudes who wrote Crazy/Beautiful (Hay and Manfredi) employed a “white gaze” to paint an easy to understand Mexican family that is just like every other “under-privileged” Mexican family you have ever seen on TV or in a movie.

Why is it always that the two choices facing minority youth in cinema is either to be some sort of loser/gangster or an honor roll student? What about the little Mexican skate rats who knock over my garbage cans? What about the Mexican punkers who I see walking around my neighborhood with their guitars and who I hear banging on their drums? What about the fact that I used to date a Mexican girl who worked at a dotcom and whose father was a professor? I mean come on guys, fucking catch up! California is nearly 40% Hispanic. There are lots of Latino people who do things besides studying or playing dominoes in the front yard with brown-bagged 40s. And yeah, I do live within walking distance of Boyle Heights.

So, there you have the really annoying shit about Crazy/Beautiful that might upset you and force you to turn it off. Remember though, the movie has a slash in the title for a reason. Here is what’s good about Crazy/Beautiful. The magnificent Kirsten Dunst plays Nicole Oakley, an extremely troubled teen who is rich, drunk and on a collision course with suicide. Her mother offed herself when Nicole was only 12 years old. Her father is a Congressman (Bruce Davison) who has a one-year-old daughter with his new wife (Lucinda Jenney), Dunst’s bitchy stepmother. Naturally, no one seems to care for Nicole, who becomes so downtrodden and distraught that she has no choice but to make friends with the highly annoying and murderable Manning. Luckily, she meets and begins having sex with Carlos. Even more luckily, we get to watch most of it. However, of course, things soon sour.

Carlos’ friends and family don’t like him hanging out with a “white girl”. His mother wants him to do nothing other than homework. There is a great little scene where Dunst explains to Carlos’ older brother that every minority student gets assigned a white girl at Pacific High School. Now, in an extremely welcome and unprecedented switch up, Nicole’s dad tells Carlos to stay away from his daughter not because Carlos is lower class and that brown and white don’t mix or some shit like that, but because HE is too good for HER. Congressman Oakley actually tells Carlos that while the young man’s future indeed seems bright, his own daughter is only going to drag him down with her and fuck that future up.

I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to call someone on the phone and tell them what just happened. An observant parent!! Carlos didn’t have to prove himself to the successful older white man. The Congressman was actually intelligent enough to talk with Carlos and make an honest and accurate assessment of the young man. My jaw is still in my lap. A true first. I strongly believe in the hundred monkeys’ theory, so I am not going to call the dudes who wrote Crazy/Beautiful geniuses. I have to say though, I was and still am very impressed.

Of course, we all know what happens in the end. Carlos realizes that Dunst is more important to him than his family, his dreams or Annapolis. Somebody once tried to argue with me that pussy wasn’t the most valuable commodity in the world. Idiot. Anyhow, right when everybody, including her, has given up on Dunst, Carlos convinces her that she is not crazy; that she is in fact beautiful. And it is only when Nicole realizes how beautiful she is that she is able to get her act together and patch things up with her father. However, Carlos fucks up. Instead of staying in California and going to like UCLA or something and getting to continue to fuck Kirsten Dunst, Carlos joins the Navy. Which I think was a dumb move. Kirsten, I will never leave you. My love will always be true. You don’t have to do anymore overly sentimental teen dramas; I know you are beautiful. Call me, kay?

In summation, Crazy/Beautiful is a half good teen flick with some above average acting and some genuinely touching scenes. Once you get past the disastrous first half with its knee-kicking stereotypes you will more likely than not enjoy this movie. I mean at one point I wanted to climb through my TV and hug Dunst and her Dad. Sob.

Ruthless Ratings:

  • Overall: 6
  • Direction: 6, and he only gets a mark this high because he was wise enough to completely drop Manning out of the movie.
  • Acting: 7
  • Story: 2
  • DVD Extras: Fuck ’em
  • Re-watchability: 4

Special Ruthless Ratings:

  • Number of times you wanted to say to Kirsten Dunst, “If you’re going to have your tits hanging out the entire movie you might as well show ’em. People will enjoy the movie more: 27
  • Number of times you realized how much people of color must fucking hate Hollywood and its interpretations of their lives: 213
  • Number of times you wanted to inflict physical damage to Taryn Manning: 42
  • Number of times you wished you were super rich and lived in a Malibu beach house: 4
  • Number of times oppressive sound track made you reach for your knife: 1000 – I somehow forgot to mention that this movie contains the most oppressive sound track of all time. Just plain awful. Takes much away from the film.
  • Number of times you realized that Kirsten Dunst is really something special: 24
  • Number of times you realized what a supreme fag you are for liking this movie as much as you did: 25