Crazy In Alabama

on October 22, 1999 by BOXOFFICE Staff
The directing debut of actor Antonio Banderas ("The 13th Warrior") doesn't often hit the marks it sets for itself. Anyway, what an odd story for the Spanish actor to choose: a '60s-set civil-rights tale that takes place in honey-drawling Alabama. The movie's biggest flaw is the parallel it tries to make between its two divergent stories: In the first, luscious-lipped Kewpie doll Lucille (Banderas' wife, Melanie Griffith) sets off for Hollywood with her abusive husband's severed head in a hat box. In the second, her young nephew Peejoe (Lucas Black, "Swing Blade"), stands up to a racist sheriff (the newly surnamed Meat Loaf Aday of "Fight Club"), who accidentally kills a young boy trying to integrate the public swimming pool. "He died for freedom, she had to kill for it," or something similar, says the script, trying to link the tales. Uh, actually, the descendants of Martin Luther King Jr. might not put a loopy starlet's grab for fame on a par with the institutional murder of a boy seeking justice.
   Though watching Griffith sashay across the country in capri pants is the visual equivalent of eating bonbons, she doesn't pull off the wacky Southern belle bit. We're supposed to be tickled when Lucille artlessly announces to anyone who asks that her hubby's head is in her luggage. But the lines just kind of hang there. And though Black is more successful as the wide-eyed Peejoe, the whole civil-rights story is a giant cliche (in addition to the redneck sheriff, there's the paragon-of-virtue black leader, and the complacent white guy who says, "That's just the way thing are."). Banderas does create some nice moments, though, even if the sum total doesn't jell. Starring Melanie Griffith, Meat Loaf Aday and Lucas Black. Directed by Antonio Banderas. Written by Mark Childress. Produced by Debra Hill and Diane Sillan Isaacs. A Columbia release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for some violence, thematic material, language and a scene of sensuality. Running time: 109 min
Tags: Melanie Griffith, Meat Loaf Aday, Lucas Black, Antonio Banderas, Mark Childress, Debra Hill, Diane Sillan Isaacs, Columbia. Drama

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