1/2 (out of 5)
May 6, 2005
Sandra Bullock as JEAN
Don Cheadle as GRAHAM
Matt Dillon as OFFICER RYAN
Jennifer Esposito as RIA
Brendan Fraser as RICK
Thandie Newton as CHRISTINE
Ryan Phillippe as OFFICER HANSON
Larenz Tate as PETER
Studio: Lion’s Gate
Directed by: Paul Haggis
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
The critics are saying that “Crash” is one of the best movies of the year. But you know what I say to that? Bull pucky! “Crash” is a long-winded, pretentious, preachy mess, featuring interlocking stories that cross paths so many times, it’s just silly.
The script is founded on the belief of any good liberal: Everyone in the world is a seething, hate-filled racist… except the filmmaker, of course, whose job it is to enlighten the American people. Sure, everyone their biases, but this film is so heavy-handed with it’s stereotypes of stereotypes that it becomes more of a cartoon than a live-action film.
This movie is so filled with hate, and it makes me sick.
I’m sick of going to the movie theater and being preached at. I’m sick of going to the movies and being told I’m a bad person. I’m sick of these holier-than-thou Hollywood types who think that everyone in this country is just one step away from pulling a white hood over their faces and running out for a nightly cross burning.
The movie opens with a pretentious speech from Don Cheadle about how society’s pain is caused by the distance we keep from each other. A moment later, Jennifer Esposito’s character makes fun of this line, but it’s not enough to dispel the impression that the director is gearing up for a huge celluloid sermon.
In short, “Crash” is about racism. It’s a series of snippets from people’s lives and how their racial intolerance causes them to be grumpy, miserable or dead.
Everyone in this movie is a racist. And not only are they racists, but they are such racists that they say the most awful and bigoted things right to the face of anyone and everyone. For example, Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) launches into a diatribe about “you people” to black customer service lady, and Flanagan (William Fichtner) actually sighs and says, “F@$&ing black people” to Graham (Don Cheadle) when things don’t go his way.
The point is that nobody talks like that. Heck, nobody even thinks like that. I’d be willing to bet that the director wanted to have this kind of ridiculous dialogue to get people thinking about what it would be like if we all spoke exactly what we thought. But I have a little more faith in the human spirit. People are better than this.
But let’s get past the race issue for now. The writing of the film is hackneyed and tired. Several scenes are practically a re-shoot of “Magnolia,” with less style and finesse.
The characters in the film do some of the stupidest things imaginable. For example, a Persian shopkeeper hires a Hispanic locksmith to fix his back door. But the locksmith tells him that the door, not the lock is broken. This erupts into a fight, filled with racial tensions. Now, I don’t care what language you speak, but an intelligent person knows the difference from a lock and a door.
Another example of this idiocy is when the husband of Christine (Thandie Newton) is pulled over by a racist cop, and she carries on first as if it were a joke and then completely obnoxiously like a nut case. Racist cop or not, you’re gonna have problems with an officer if you act like that. I mean, I’m a white guy, and if I acted like that to a cop, I’d be thrown in jail.
I’m sure the filmmakers want it to start a dialogue about race, but this film has about as much racially unifying power as Rodney King. If there’s any message you can glean from this movie, it’s to stay away from Los Angeles because people there are just plain stupid.