Let’s say you have this friend. We’ll call him Jeff. Jeff is a total badass. He’s 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, that’s why he’s got different cuts of steak in his fridge, a bathroom that looks like the Women’s Lounge at Von Maur and mean guitar-playing skills. Unfortunately, Jeff’s wife Maggie is not a badass. She’s 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, let’s say you were asked to describe Jeff’s family. What would you say? You love Jeff. He’s a barrel of fucking laughs, but this isn’t college. It’s not just Jeff anymore. It’s Jeff, his annoying wife Maggie and that channel-changing, ankle biter douche bag son. You can’t just brazenly give a thumbs up knowing what you know about the baggage Jeff now carts around. But it’s Jeff, badass Jeff. You can’t 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 I’m 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 don’t 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) You’re 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 don’t know what The Naked Gun is, but this off-topic aside doesn’t seem germane to the article.
I’m an informed, cold-hearted optimist who knows if the glove doesn‘t 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, you’re 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, let’s 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.
So, Jeff Bridges, he was great. All of you who aren’t too busy seeing The Smurfs Do Environmentalism for the third time can have a big agreement powwow there. But Crazy Heart wasn’t nominated. Probably because it’s 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 man’s life. I know what you’re 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 don’t have to be. A film doesn’t need to be plot-driven, but it does need to have momentum. Crazy Heart has no momentum at all. It’s 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.
There’s an old television rule which says: film a funny comedian interacting with strangers, and you’ll 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. There’s 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.
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