Steve Daly
October 22, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Crazy in Alabama

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
113 minutes
performer
Lucas Black, Melanie Griffith, Meat Loaf, Cathy Moriarty, Richard Schiff, Rod Steiger
director
Antonio Banderas
author
Mark Childress
genre
Comedy, Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it a D+

Of all the patronizing white-witness movies made in Hollywood about the civil rights movement, Crazy in Alabama has to be the loopiest. Meet Lucille (Melanie Griffith), a sweetly deranged housewife who beheads her abusive husband, flees cross-country to Los Angeles, and lands a guest-star role on her favorite TV series, ”Bewitched.” (The lame excuse for not showing her interacting with the show’s original cast à la ”Forrest Gump” is that Lucille films her work as cutaways, opposite stand-ins.) Interwoven with this ridiculous odyssey is another story line that has Lucille’s young nephew, Peejoe (Lucas Black, the kid from ”Sling Blade”), standing up with a group of Alabama blacks against a duly bigoted sheriff (Meat Loaf Aday).

Griffith’s husband, Antonio Banderas, making his directorial debut, lays on the lessons with a heavy hand. He actually has Peejoe talk about injustices to black ”pay-puhl” as another boy crushes ants near the edge of a whites-only swimming pool. By the time Rod Steiger shows up as a judge, carrying on like Marlon Brando in ”Apocalypse Now,” the whole enterprise has collapsed into something as campy as a flick by Banderas’ evident artistic mentor, Pedro Almódovar.

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