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Movie Review

Disparate plots intertwine in this quirky directorial debut by Antonio Banderas. It's 1965, and as the movie begins, Lucille tells her extended family that she has killed her husband and cut off his head. She's off to Hollywood to be a star ... with his head sealed up in a freezer container. Her mental imbalance grows worse before it gets better. But she does land a guest slot on Bewitched. After she's gone, her 14-year-old nephew, Peejoe, and her brother, Dove, get caught up in the racial conflicts that are coming to a head in Industry, Alabama. As unlikely as it seems, the two stories come together as the film progresses, creating stark contrasts between Hollywood glitz and Southern turmoil.

Positive Elements: Racial injustice is strongly condemned. Peejoe realizes that he has to stand up for what's right when he sees Sheriff Doggett kill a black boy without provocation. Equality, justice, compassion and love are all given attention. If taken at face value, Lucille's deadly deed and subsequent trip to California are diabolical. But if taken as illustrations of a deeper meaning, they teach that running away from one's problems solves nothing. Unfortunately, the filmmakers wimp out in the end, undermining the noble lessons by allowing Lucille to escape consequences.

Spiritual Content: A waitress at a truck stop berates Christian men as being lousy husbands ("If your husband's a religious nut, it's a pain the butt").

Sexual Content: Suggestion only. Nothing's shown, but it's implied that Lucille and a bellboy at a Las Vegas hotel have sex. She seduces a police officer, then holds him at gun-point to escape imprisonment. Peejoe declares that he's "in love" with his Aunt. Lucille tells the judge during her trial that her husband sabotaged her diaphragm so that she would be constantly pregnant.

Violent Content: Murder. Lucille's actions are discussed throughout the film, but never shown. Her husband's severed head is a constant companion, but again, doesn't appear onscreen. However, on her trip to Hollywood, she fires her gun in a bar, steals a car and pulls a gun on an officer. A distraught woman throws herself through a glass door. Altercations between black protesters and white police officers are depicted on several occasions. Sheriff Doggett is shown pulling a black boy off a chain link fence. The boy falls onto the concrete, hits his head and dies.

Crude or Profane Language: About two dozen mild profanities (including several misuses of Jesus' name). The s-word pops up a couple of times as well. White racists use the n-word to show their derision for blacks.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Lucille orders a mixed drink at a bar, which she promptly throws in the face of the bartender. She also sips champagne and smokes a cigarette. A few other characters also drink.

Other Negative Content: Lucille gambles in Las Vegas.

Summary: Crazy in Alabama runs the risk of glamorizing murder and revenge since Lucille gets away with her dastardly deed in the end. That risk is paralleled by messages of non-violent solutions and the transcendence of love, even love for one's enemies. The senselessness of bigotry and hate is poignantly revealed for what it is when white authorities in town fill up the local swimming pool with concrete, rather than allow it to be integrated. But hope runs strong. Peejoe says at the end, "You can bury freedom, but you can't kill it." Lose Lucille's Thelma & Louise-style killing and journey to L.A., and this film provides a fascinating and insightful look into the racially divisive 1960s South.

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Melanie Griffith as Lucille; David Morse as Dove; Lucas Black as Peejoe; Meat Loaf as Sheriff John Doggett


Antonio Banderas ( )


Columbia Pictures



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Steven Isaac

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