First Review : Like Crazy (2011), directed by Drake Doremus

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I’ll admit that this movie was one of the reasons that made me think “you know what, I need to start up something where I review movies, because if there’s one thing in this world that people love, its the opinions of others!” But no seriously, this movie really made me think…I’m not even sure if it was supposed to do that, I’ll admit it isn’t the most complex of movies, but it made me want to talk about it with others, and I suppose that is impressive in its own right.

So about the movie – its essentially about a goofy looking dude (that guy who played Ensign Chekov in the last Star Trek movie, Anton Yelchin) who for some reason attracts a beautiful, somewhat quirky British girl named Anna (played by Felicity Jones, who I hope we see more of), because he is the TA in her English class. She leaves him a note by his car and they meet for lunch and her quirkiness is on full display as she apologizes for doing something so crazy, explains she really isn’t nuts, etc. Of course he has no choice but to fall for her, we wouldn’t have a movie if he didnt, plus c’mon, who wouldn’t anyways. One thing that is nice about this movie is we don’t really get all the exposition of them falling in love, that isn’t REALLY what this whole movie is about, its trying something different, and for the most part succeeds. Sure we get the obligatory “cute” scenes of them frolicking on the beach and eating ice cream together, you know the crap that most couples pretty much never do, I’m fairly certain I’ve never done any frolicking, and I might have shared ice cream with a girl when I was like six. But for the most part aside from those cutesy scenes this movie stays grounded in reality, which is probably why I liked it so much. Sure its still “movie” reality, but this certainly isn’t some tripe like “Must Love Dogs” or whatever garbage movie Katherine Heigl is playing in this week.

So the movie is essentially about the long distance relationship that they are facing, since she is a British student in LA who is on her Visa, which makes her have to return to the UK for the summer. Well she decides that she wants to stay with him for the summer instead, which turns out is frowned upon by customs. It is the scene where they lie in bed together and she tells him that she wants to stay that we, well, at least I, realized something – she is more in love with him than he is with her. Yet another facet of reality this movie throws at us, because I’m a firm believer that in any relationship, one person is always more in love with the other. In Like Crazy, it is most assuredly Anna who is more in love with whats-his-face. It all stems from how they met even, it was her doing all the work, and it continues with her deciding to stay for the summer to keep the relationship going. So we get a few more montages of a summer of love, actually quite well done with a fast motion shot of them lying in bed in various embraces throughout the summer, and we are fast forwarded to her being back in the UK, where he meets her parents, who are awesome and one of the main “movie” elements at work here – no one’s parents are that cool and “hip” to relationships like they are. The Dad reminded me of a british J.K. Simmons which is a very, very good thing, you can’t go wrong with J. Jonah Jameson in your movie, even as a supporting character, but still, her parents are just a bit too cool and understanding. Doesn’t hurt the movie however, because the dialogue between them and whats-his-face is entertaining. But here we get to the real focus of the movie – when she tries to go back to the states to visit him next – SURPRISE! – she can’t. She broke the rules of her Visa when she didn’t come back, and in a very well done panicky scene,he is there to pick her up at the airport, and she is stuck in some faceless room with customs officials yelling at her telling her she has to get back on the plane. This scene is one of the most memorable of the movie, and was really about the point that I knew I was watching something that I was really going to like. So she gets shipped back to the UK, and this relationship now has a new dilemma – should they even stay together if his work is in LA and she is an up-and-coming writer in the UK, but it’s completely one-sided in that he always has to come to her? By the way I never mentioned their jobs because it isn’t important to the story – people in movies always have these great jobs most of us will never have, and they are there simply to advance the plot – for example he makes chairs for people, and uh, they really are just wooden chairs man, nothing special – yet for some reason he’s in high demand in LA. Sure buddy, ok. And shes a successful writer in the UK who gets to work for that hot older lady who used to host “How Do I Look?” back in the day. Yeah I watched that show, wanna fight about it? But don’t get me started on being a successful writer, because I am writer myself with a Masters Degree and I’m writing this from my room because I have a day off from my PART TIME bank teller job, so yeah, let me tell you, being a writer DEFINITELY pays the bills – but it does if you are a pretty British girl in the movies /endrant. So here is where we get a few more supporting characters, and the wonderful, magnificent, Jennifer Lawrence gets her 15 minutes in the movie, and Anna also has some dude interested in her that looks like British Channing Tatum. This is the main conflict in the movie, is there a point to staying together when there is so much else out there? And again we see how much more Anna loves whats-his-face, because it is mostly her who breaks down and needs him back in her life, shown through her texting him or drunk dialing him when he is out with Katniss. He isn’t really sure what to do in the situation, at least that was how I viewed his reaction to this part of the movie, because Jennifer plays his assistant at the apparently awesome wooden chair business, and she is wonderful to him. I’ll get back to her character in a minute, along with other supporting characters, but I’m already rambling here, which uh, get used to that on here. But anyways, Anna is mostly still totally head over heels for him and he needs to do something about that, so he decides to go back to the UK again, and it is here where (and given her character, this isn’t surprising) Anna pretty much proposes to him, and says that getting married will solve all their problems and let her come back to the states. She’s willing to give up her awesome editor job for him, and in THIS economy! If that isn’t love, well then I just don’t know what is. So he says sure why not, he doesn’t have to sacrifice much except for break up with Sam (Jennifer Lawrence’s character), but nbd there, hes still got Anna. Well of course they hit another snag AFTER they get married at the courthouse, and she still isn’t allowed in the states, even with someone helping out with her case. They really frown upon staying the summer in LA if you have a student Visa apparently. Stupid government. So this creates the only scene that I really liked whats-his-face in, where he turns into a guy and acts like nothing bothers him and its fine that she can’t come back…but then explodes back at her apartment. This is where we learn that shes had a thing with her neighbor British Channing Tatum while he was back at the states, and for some reason he goes ballistic on her about it, even though hes been doing the same damn thing. Typical guy! MEN! and such. So he storms back to the states and it doesn’t look too good for the relationship, and we fast forward again (this movie does that a lot) and he’s still with Sam and now shes with British Channing Tatum, and he’s pretty much totally smitten with her. This is another interesting part of the movie – British Channing Tatum (yeah I forgot his name, and it frankly isn’t really important to the story, he’s a plot device) is essentially the Anna in this relationship, and Sam is MOST ASSUREDLY like Anna with whats-his-face. I couldn’t really buy why either of these girls liked him so much, but hey, it all lead up to something great, which is what I’m getting to.

One more sidenote and I swear I’ll get to the ending – the supporting characters almost overshadow the main characters, with the exception of Anna. This mostly pertains to the men in the movie, Her parents, as I said above, are wonderful, and Jennifer Lawrence in this movie is almost ridiculous. She just proves how great of an actress she is in this movie, she can’t be pigeon-holed into a small role and not completely shine in it. Lawrence is in this movie for maybe a grand total of 15 minutes, MAYBE. And she is almost the most memorable character of the entire movie. Her breakup with whats-his-face is nearly as tragic as any scene he has with Anna, and it is all because of the range Lawrence has. C’mon, she killed it as Katniss, she was Mystique, and for gods sake if you have never seen Winter’s Bone, then turn off this stupid movie review here and go see it IMMEDIATELY. It’s easily one of the best movies of the past five years. But anyways, the main reason why I kept calling Anton Yelchin’s character whats-his-face is because, he isn’t memorable. He doesn’t really display any of the traits that would make him desirable to someone like Anna or Sam, he is just, well, mostly a plot device. This IS a knock against Yelchin himself, he’s usually in movies that are far better than he is as an actor. He is passable as the supporting character in Star Trek, but in movies like Running with Scissors and Charlie Bartlett, both good in their own right, the story is thankfully much better than Yelchin is in his roles. I’m not a fan of this guy, and actually this was the main reason I didn’t pick up Like Crazy until last week even though the idea of it was interesting to me. But my point on this diversion was to say that one of the problems with this movie is that some of the supporting characters overshadow the main characters, which I guess is a problem with casting, and also maybe a lesson that you shouldn’t cast a freaking acting powerhouse like Jennifer Lawrence for a supporting role, she is simply too good. However, what she brings to this movie is great, and she made that whole side story all the more interesting.

Ok, I swear I’m almost done, I’m finally to the reason why I loved this movie and why I decided to start writing about movies on here – the ending was incredible, and what left me thinking for a couple days after. Ok so they are married still and cheating on each other (SINNERS!) with these people, and it all comes to a head when British Channing Tatum tells Anna’s parents that he wants to marry her, and creates a fairly awkward scene. It is then that Anna realizes she can’t do this, shes been just going through the motions, and of course she can’t live without whats-his-face. So she calls him, and he decides, well, I guess Anna is better than Sam, so sure, lets do this, let’s stay together. But here is the real kick in the crotch, when reality really comes into this movie – is this really what either of them wants anymore? What are you really supposed to do, does either of them know? Apparently her Visa situation is cleared up, I don’t really think its covered too deeply in the movie (plot device, thats fine), but she can come back to the States now. We get the fairly heart-breaking scene where he tells Sam that he is finally done and doesn’t love her, that he needs to stay with Anna, and Anna is back in his life. And she comes back and its uncomfortable and weird from the start, neither are sure this is the right thing but they did it anyways and its too late, and he breaks the tension by saying he’s gonna shower, and she should join him. This is when I’m yelling at the TV “DUDE! End it now, AWESOME! This is the end!” and so the movie didn’t let me down – we see them in the shower, uncertainty in both of their eyes, and she just hugs him and holds on to him, while we get a parting shot of his eyes, still not entirely sure what he has done or if it was the right thing. FANTASTIC ending, and a mirror of the ending to the brilliant masterpiece The Graduate – almost an homage to that ending, really. Hardly any of us know if we are really with the right person for us, those lucky few that do then rock on kids, you win at life, but most of us have no clue. Anna and whats-his-face, after all they have been through, still don’t really have a clue. A brilliant, real ending when most of the time in Hollywood everything is wrapped up in a neat little package, and we all know life isn’t like that. And one last thing before my verdict – I am a HUGE fan of the downer ending. Always have been. When people ask me why, I usually say, because that is LIFE man, life is depressing, life is uncertain, most of us just stumble around looking for a clue and wing it and hope for the best, and life IS depressing and hard. Like Crazy portrays that brilliantly at the end of it, call me a Debbie Downer if you want , but I loved it.

The final verdict –

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