Film Review: Crazy People (1990)

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There are plenty of bad Hollywood high concept comedies. There are some very bad Hollywood high concept comedies. And there is Crazy People, 1990 film directed by Tony Bill.

Protagonist, played by Dudley Moore, is Emory Leeson, hard-working advertising executive who apparently had enough and apparently suffered nervous breakdown. When he proposes his boss Drucker (played by J. T. Walsh) to use truth instead of manipulation in their advertising campaigns, he is promptly sent to psychiatric sanatorium where he would take group therapy led by Dr. Liz Baylor (played by Mercedes Ruehl). There he meets all kinds of unusual and eccentric characters, but one that catches most of his attention is Kathy Burgess (played by Daryl Hannah), beautiful but obviously confused woman who tells him about brother in US Army who is supposed to get her out of hospital. In the meantime, Emory’s colleague and friend Stephen Bachmann (played by Paul Reiser) has some of Emory’s ads published by mistakes. Despite being outrageous in their language and sincerity, those ads create great interest in various products and services. Realising that he made a mistake, Drucker goes to sanatorium and asks Emory to work from him there. Emory agrees, but also employs his friends from his therapy group, and whose insane ideas create even more colourful ad campaigns.

It would be unfair to say that Crazy People is completely unfunny and that it lacks any entertainment. Some of the ads Emory and his friends devised are quite ingenious in the way they play towards targeted audience’s basest instincts and are quite funny, although some sensitive souls today might characterise them as sexist or, like in the case of Sony Corporation ad, racist. Unfortunately, those entertaining clips make only a fraction of film, which is for the most part uninspired, boring pseudo-comedy with predictable plot twists, accompanied by intimidatingly loud and inappropriate score by Cliff Eidelman. To make things worse, the script by Mitch Markowitz, which would otherwise serve as middle-of-the-road and even family-friendly comedy, must have characters use plenty of profanities for the sole sake of getting “R” rating by increasingly prudish MPAA ratings board. This was done as producers’ misguided attempt to give film more publicity as being supposedly “edgy”. Middle-aged Dudley Moore, who had replaced John Malkovich, doesn’t add anything to his poorly written character, seems tired and lacks any chemistry with Hannah, who at the time apparently specialised in playing slightly “off” characters. Although Crazy People mercifully doesn’t have long running time, when it is over most of the viewers would breathe sigh of relief.

RATING: 3/10 (+)

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