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Not Crazy for “Like Crazy”: When Indie Films Go Soft

Not Crazy for "Like Crazy": When Indie Films Go Soft

Every so often an indie film comes along that studio executives, marketers, agents and even some prominent critics believe is the best thing to come along since sliced bread. But for me, Drake Doremus’ “Like Crazy” (opening Friday) is more like Wonder Bread, white, doughy and tasteless. I don’t like to beat down on any indie film, but I also don’t like to see hype given to films that I don’t think deserve it, nor do I like to see movies that I think are uninspiring and derivative pave the way for our industry. If this what is championed, we’re doomed.

When I reviewed “Like Crazy” for Screen Daily at Sundance, I called the film “unfulfilling” and “an earnest look at the untenability of long distance relationships, but also a shallow one.” But soon afterward my review was published, what do you know, the movie got scooped up by a major studio and won the Grand Jury Prize, and everyone on the plane back from Park City was talking about it (many favorably).

I couldn’t have been more wrong when I wrote, “While the attractive cast of hot up-and-comers may guarantee a certain amount of playability on DVD and VOD platforms, theatrical prospects are limited.” With Viacom/Paramount/MTV’s marketing efforts propelling it, a significant amount of ticket sales are now guaranteed.

But that doesn’t mean the movie is good. The movie I saw at Sundance was filled with cliches (“cuddling on the beach with the sunset peaking behind them”) and “thinly drawn lead characters.” As I wrote, “the characterizations seem more fitting for a TV commercial than a feature-length drama. Neither [protagonist] are given anything more to fill out their characters than their post-collegiate careers (he’s a furniture designer; she’s a magazine journalist). When Jennifer Lawrence (‘Winter’s Bone’) briefly shows up as a rival lover, she gives credible tears in a break-up scene, but the character is given so little context or history that the moment is a wasted opportunity.”

I still stand by my opinion, even if others disagree.

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