Overview: You know that scene in Magnolia where all the characters sing the same Aimee Mann song and you think, “Wait a minute, this feels like cheating!”? Okay, stretch that out for an entire movie, mix in a snooty eighth-grader’s understanding of xenophobia and you’ve got the 2004 Oscar winner Crash. Lions Gate; 2004; Rated R; 112 Ridiculous Minutes.
The Good: The humor of watching Chris “Ludacris”(sic) Bridges act as if he believes he is in a seriously thought-provoking movie? I like to imagine how he described the script to his rap friends when he was taking a break from recording “Get Out the Way.” Then, I think about Brendan Fraser doing the same thing on the set of George of the Jungle (and I know that production timeline doesn’t add up). I’ll give Crash credit for allowing that self-amusement. The camera work isn’t terrible and 50 % of the scenes would have been much more impressive if they served as the crescendo to their own separate movies, but no, they are strung together as one climactic piece of absurd coincidence after another.
The Bad: Let’s just make a list. 1.) Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe doesn’t act. Ryan Phillippe sulks. 2.) The fumble-fingered handling of racism in a multi-ethnic community that somehow feels more uncomfortable than racism itself. Not to deny the ever-existent issue of race and the ugliness it imposes on our culture—this movie just is not the right answer. 3.) The gross emotional manipulation: The perfectly timed snowfall in LA (which is enough unlikely coincidence for any movie other than this one), the Hallmark score, Don Cheadle (Note to directors: if you want emotional heaviness, just hire Don Cheadle to stand in the middle of tragedy).
The Very, Very Ugly: That this movie won Haggis an Oscar. Over Brokeback Mountain.
Let Me Just Add: Just think about that scene where the little girl runs into her locksmith father’s arms in perfect time to intercede on the gunshot except, dammit, there is no gun shot because in this movie of course he was sold blanks, but we don’t get to know that for 15 excruciating seconds, as we are made to suffer through the worst thing that can happen in a movie even though it’s not fucking happening. Remember that talk about the invincible cape earlier? Haha, these guys.
Watch This Movie if: …maybe if you are a bigot who wants to laugh at the racist jokes the movie clumsily wags a finger at. Maybe if you think Key & Peele offer cutting edge racial editorial in their sketch comedy.