Although I knew that Melanie Griffith was not the best actress, as Crazy in Alabama was directed by Antonio Banderas, I figured it was worth a shot.
Crazy in Alabama is a problem because of its story. It simultaneously comes back and forth between two stories, one which is seriously dramatic in dealing with issues about coming of age and racism while the other is a comedy about a woman trying to make it in Hollywood after running away from the husband that she murdered. The reason that so many critics feel that Crazy in Alabama does not fully come together is because it never does. It is essentially two films: a comedy and a drama drastically mashed together into the one film which is pretty senseless. Both stories have potential, but they would work better as standalone projects. The fact that Crazy in Alabama is so constantly flipping back and forth between a serious drama and a lighthearted comedy is ridiculous. Crazy in Alabama is built mainly on a lot of tonal shifts, and it makes the experience shaky, degrading the hard nature of the drama while also making the comedy sink beneath a film which takes itself way too seriously. The two stories seriously damaged the potential of Crazy in Alabama because it made it difficult for me to laugh at one story or find the other compelling. The two stories have pretty much nothing to do with each other, and so what the actual point of them was seems very weird to me. In short, Crazy in Alabama succeeds neither as a decent comedy or a drama because each story lays down a negative effect on the other, and while the film had a greater chance of being a decent comedy, the drama just dragged it down and made the experience poor.
The fact is that neither of the stories in Crazy in Alabama are really interesting because the dramatic story about racism and a corrupt sheriff does not capitalise on its potential and ends up generic and bereft of much entertainment value whereas the comedic storyline does not go for many laughs due to being short on jokes. Both stories serve as a front for some good acting and nice scenery, but the fact is that filmmaking requires something for people to build off. The scenery and acting in the film build off of nothing, and if viewers do indeed find Crazy in Alabama to be a good film it is merely because they have distracted viewers from the fact that at heart, this film is poor. It boils down to the screenplay by Mark Childress as adapted from his own novel. Mark Childress wants the film to be both a serious drama and a comedic vehicle for Melanie Griffith, but he fails to find the balance to make it work and so it doesn't end up supplying all that much to Antonio Banderas for his directional debut.
Antonio Banderas does what he can, and luckily enough in the end he ends up showing promise as a film director by revealing an eye for style in filmmaking. He captures a lot of beautiful scenery in the film which makes it feel genuine and gives viewers a loose sense of the timeframe, and he does it with innovative cinematography techniques. He is constantly trying out new angles and editing at a gentle pace which gives the film a good visual style and captures everything well. And against the backdrop of a nice and gentle musical score, Crazy in Alabama just feels right.
And the cast have no trouble in the film.
You can tell that the Golden Raspberry Awards really have it out for Melanie Griffith because she got nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for her leading role in Crazy in Alabama. In actual fact, she is the best element of the film. While her performance is not perfect, her leading role gives her the opportunity to charm audiences with her natural flair which is exactly what she achieves. She manages to establish the character as a sympathetic and likable figure even though she is a killer, and she manages to maintain her natural charm for the entirety of the film. She delivers her lines with a certain giddy energy without going over the top, and she constantly keeps the emotions of her character in tact well. Melanie Griffith's charming lead performance in Crazy in Alabama capitalises on what she is truly about as an actress, and so she carries the film on her shoulders much of the time and should be able to entertain her fans well in one of the best performances she has given in years.
Lucas Black is also great in Crazy in Alabama. As he has to carry the dramatic storyline on his shoulders, he is required to put a lot of dedication into the role. And without trouble, that is exactly what he does. Lucas Black injects a lot of solid youthful charisma into his part by delivering his lines with real passion for the part. He takes the material very seriously and single handily attempts to convey the emotional impact of the drama in the film to audiences. Lucas Black's performance is stronger in dramatic credibility than the story itself, and it shows a lot of talent from the young actor and boosts the credibility of the film.
Robert Wagner also supplies a decent supporting performance, and Cathy Moriarty adds a nice touch to the film with her small part in Crazy in Alabama.
Yet despite a talented cast led by an enjoyable performance from Melanie Griffith as well as stylish direction from Antonio Banderas, Crazy in Alabama is a film which cannot decide what to do with itself and bounces back and forth between melodrama and comedy without being strong or funny enough to succeed as either, and instead it ends up as a dull film with a weak and uncompelling story along with a terrible structure.