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Laramie Movie Scope:

Surprise! A teen romance without the idiots

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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July 17, 2001 -- When I say "Teen Romance" in the context of Hollywood films I do not usually associate the words "intelligent, caring, sensitive, thoughtful, insightful" or words of that sort to that type of film. Usually, I associate Teen Romance with the words "oversexed idiots," because that's what the main characters are, trapped in an idiot plot.

"Crazy/Beautiful" is an exception to the rule, although the trailers of the film would have you believe otherwise. I imagine many people were disappointed with this film, stomping out of the theater, demanding their money back because it is not a comedy and there are no oversexed idiot kids in a soft porn plot. Those who like something out of the ordinary will be pleased to see that this film is a true drama with well-drawn characters and a fairly intelligent script.

The story is about Nicole (played by Kirsten Dunst of "Bring It On"), a girl from a wealthy family, who falls in love with Carlos, (Jay Hernandez of the "Hang Time" TV show), a kid from the poor side of town. The two face a lot of problems. Carlos' family and friends do not approve of Nicole. Her wildness and lack of discipline threatens to sink Carlos' dreams of attending the U.S. Naval Academy and becoming a pilot. Nicole is tortured by her past and needs Carlos' love to keep from sinking into a self-destructive depression.

Nicole's father, Congressman Tom Oakley, attempts to break up her daughter's relationship. At first, we think he's a jerk, but it turns out to be more complicated than we first think. Only Tom's wife, Courtney (Lucinda Jenney of "Thirteen Days") seems shallow, self-centered and simplistic. Most of the other characters in the film are multifaceted and are drawn in rich detail. Situations are not as simple as they first seem. While the resolution to the conflict is a bit clichéd, it is a pretty intelligent solution, requiring some maturity and thoughtfulness. The characters finally take responsibility for their own lives and they face their problems.

One of the interesting things about this film is that there is a good deal of dialogue in Spanish, with no subtitles. Mexican-American characters play key roles of the film and they are not relegated to stereotypes. The story is about a clash of cultures, but it is a lot more than that. The film goes beyond the simplicity of the usual Hollywood storyline to tell us something important about the human condition: that sometimes you just can't play it safe.

The film is well-directed by John Stockwell (who was one of the lead actors in "John Carpenters Christine") and the solid screenplay was written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. The actors, particularly the leads and Bruce Davison do a fine job. The supporting cast is solid, especially Soledad St. Hilaire as Carlos' mother. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2001 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)