Red Band Rant: See Crazy Heart Once Every Five Years

By Mack Rawden 2010-02-09 02:02:56discussion comments
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Red Band Rant: See Crazy Heart Once Every Five Years image
Letís say you have this friend. Weíll call him Jeff. Jeff is a total badass. Heís got a wicked sense of humor, a house with secret passageways and a big ass flat screen TV. Yes, his television is equipped with AT&T Uverse. Obviously. I already told you he was a badass. In fact, thatís why heís got different cuts of steak in his fridge, a bathroom that looks like the Womenís Lounge at Von Maur and mean guitar-playing skills. Unfortunately, Jeffís wife Maggie is not a badass. Sheís a terror. She has this insufferable accent, gets all condescending whenever illegal substances come out and is beyond ill-equipped to raise their son, an annoying little shit seven year old who speaks out of turn and changes the channel at key moments. Now, letís say you were asked to describe Jeffís family. What would you say? You love Jeff. Heís a barrel of fucking laughs, but this isnít college. Itís not just Jeff anymore. Itís Jeff, his annoying wife Maggie and that channel-changing, ankle biter douche bag son. You canít just brazenly give a thumbs up knowing what you know about the baggage Jeff now carts around. But itís Jeff, badass Jeff. You canít turn your back on the dude who accused that creepy waiter of being a vampire that one time at Steak N Shake when you were all nineteen years old and hammered thinking those carefree times would extend well past college.

Thus is my dilemma in writing an op-ed about Crazy Heart, an unsolvable conundrum Iím too stupid not to take on, too amateurish to ever solve. Does Jeff Bridges, doing arguably, the best work of his career, make it worth watching or does the sluggish plot, lazy pacing and below-average supporting acting mute his greatness, making the whole thing a tedious failure? I donít know. I guess it depends on perspective. Please, if you will, read the following statement, then choose the response most closely aligned with your gut reaction:
Yeah, O.J. Simpson murdered two people, but he was still hilarious in The Naked Gun.
A) Youíre goddamn right he was hilarious.
B) Seriously? He murdered two people. How is The Naked Gun relevant?
C) The Juice was good in The Towering Inferno too.
D) I donít know what The Naked Gun is, but this off-topic aside doesnít seem germane to the article.

Iím an informed, cold-hearted optimist who knows if the glove doesnĎt fit, you have to acquit; so, depending on mood, I would always select A or C. And that is why I will watch Crazy Heart once every five years for the rest of my life. As for you? Well, as I said, it depends upon perspective. If you chose B, youíre probably a bleeding-heart pessimist without the proper detached perspective to appreciate sight gags and one thousand yard rushing seasons. Crazy Heart is not for you. Perhaps Avatar would be a little more your speed. Please find the nearest lit exit and navigate away from this article immediately. As for the rest of us, letís look at Crazy Heart a little more closely and examine the reasons why it should be viewed no more or less than once every five years.

Jeff Bridges was just nominated by the Academy for his turn as Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. Not a surprise, really. Heís a total badass. In fact, everyone I know whoís seen Crazy Heart has immediately found it necessary to Twitter just how blown away they were by Jeff Bridges. I wasnít surprised. Iíve seen The Big Lebowski; Iíve seen that Ridley Scott movie about the boat. Heís a great actor. He has this way of inhabiting characters, making their behavior almost predictable. I say almost predictable because the behaviors themselves arenít predictable, except that when they happen, you think, ďthat asshole, he would do that.Ē Itís like watching That 70s Show, a program which had, you know, nine years to flesh out the predictability of its characters. Oh Ericís sister, she would act like an ignorant whoreÖ. Oh Bad Blake, he would drive across the country without his shirt onÖ He would try and run up a tab at the bowling alley he was performing atÖ He would vomit during the encore and still return for the curtain callÖ

So, Jeff Bridges, he was great. All of you who arenít too busy seeing The Smurfs Do Environmentalism for the third time can have a big agreement powwow there. But Crazy Heart wasnít nominated. Probably because itís terrible. Maybe not terrible. Just not good. A meandering, plot-less mess which is less a story worth telling, more a brief excerpt of a manís life. I know what youíre thinking. Hey, that sounds interesting. Why do movies always have to be about a guy getting a girl or bad men getting their comeuppance? Well, jackass, they donít have to be. A film doesnít need to be plot-driven, but it does need to have momentum. Crazy Heart has no momentum at all. Itís like Big Brother After Dark, a program I occasionally watch because, conceivably, hot people could get their fuck on live. Live. Live. Live. They never do. But I still hope---like a true fucking Cubs fan.

Thereís an old television rule which says: film a funny comedian interacting with strangers, and youíll get one minute of usable footage for every hour you record. Watching Crazy Heart is like watching a funny comedian interacting with strangers completely uncut. Jeff Bridges is in the zone, entirely dialed in, but very few things worth watching actually happen. He plays a few gigs, drinks, meets Maggie Gyllenhall, drinks, does an interview, drinks, hangs out with her son, drinks, tries to write a song, drinks and then he drinks. Colin Farrell is also involved with a Southern accent. Thereís no excitement, no climax, no escalating tension, just life, unfiltered and uncut, no more interesting than you, yes you, sitting there, reading this article, deciding whether to finish up or take a nap.

So, to recap, we have an almost legendary performance in a film which is consistently boring and near unwatchable. Itís like the career of Ernie Banks or the macaroni n cheese at Golden Corral or Ben StillerĎs wife on Hey Dude. Once every five years? That seems about right.

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