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In Crazy/Beautiful, Nicole, the self-destructive, party-hearty daughter of a California congressman meets Carlos, a well-grounded, ambitious jock with dreams of flying planes for the Navy. A Hispanic young man from the "other side of the tracks," Carlos spends hours each day just riding the bus to attend the best high school possible for his academic future. Nicole cuts class. Carlos shares a loving, respectful relationship with his single mom. Nicole and her workaholic father barely talk (her mother committed suicide years earlier), and she and her young stepmom are downright hostile to each other. Carlos is reasonably modest and temperate. The promiscuous Nicole wears revealing outfits, and abuses drugs and alcohol. So when they catch each other’s eye on the beach (she’s stabbing trash, serving time for a DUI), it’s the genesis of a moral and cultural train wreck. Or could it be true love? The question is, will Nicole drag Carlos into her bawdy world or will his love become the catalyst that straightens out her life?
positive elements: By contrasting Nicole’s lifestyle with that of Carlos’, the filmmakers convey the basic need for personal responsibility, loving families, hard work, self control, chivalry, honesty and long-range planning. Carlos dreams big dreams for his career and employs a strong blue-collar ethic to meet those goals, never expecting success to be handed to him on a silver platter. Nicole, on the other hand, lives a life of self-indulgent privilege and boundless independence, which is shown to have devastating consequences. By the film’s end, she realizes her life is "a mess" and desires meaningful change. Carlos stands by his girlfriend and even encourages her to have a heart-to-heart talk with her dad, which she does. That communication leads to expressions of love by her father and the promise of long-term healing in Nicole’s family. The couple do sweet, thoughtful things for one another. On one occasion, Carlos comes to Nicole’s defense at a party when he finds her drunk and being taken advantage of. Sentenced to an extra hour in the weight room for being late to football practice, Carlos honorably does his time, refusing to leave early even though there’s no way anyone would know. There are subtle plugs for noble causes, specifically Habitat for Humanity.
spiritual content: Trying to figure out how to handle a relationship, Nicole’s friend Maddy jokingly asks the rhetorical question "What would Jesus do?"
sexual content: Nicole, after a few too many drinks, initiates a make-out session with Carlos early in their relationship. Not long afterward, the pair are in her bedroom, undressing each other. He insists they use a condom. She humors him by parading half-naked into the kitchen and, in full view of the housekeeper, plucks a prophylactic from a cabinet and nonchalantly heads back to bed. But the mood is ruined for Carlos when, as they prepare to make love, her father can be heard cavorting outside the window with his wife and toddler (Nicole tries to get him to continue anyway, but they decide to wait for a more opportune setting). Days later, hormones get the best of the teens and they sleep together. Candles. Music. Tangled sheets. It’s not the last time. Nicole and Carlos are also shown showering together at a motel (no nudity). Girls dance suggestively and frequently appear in immodest outfits or in their underwear.
violent content: Minor. Guys engage in shoving matches and a fistfight. Nicole and Carlos scuffle with police officers after being pulled over.
crude or profane language: The script suffers from frequent profanity including an f-word, more than a dozen s-words, exclamatory uses of God’s name and more. Women are referred to as b--ches. Racial slurs get tossed back and forth between Caucasians and Hispanics.
drug and alcohol content: Nicole’s love-hate relationship with drugs and alcohol is a central theme, but no hard drugs are consumed onscreen. Many young characters drink at parties, some to excess. Nicole gets "a little wasted" on several occasions, which is especially irresponsible since it is suggested that she’s taking prescription medication. There’s a reference to "scoring weed."
other negative elements: An urgent need to urinate leads Nicole and Maddy into an alley to publicly (as they put it) "pop a squat." Carlos compromises his integrity by lying to Nicole’s father about a missed appointment (it could be argued that the awkwardness of the moment proves that honesty is the best policy, or that the boy simply needs more practice at deception). He also compromises his future by dating the wanton Nicole in the first place, which is easy to overlook since the movie uses his love to redeem her in the end. Things don’t always work out that well. Many times it is the immoral one who exerts the greatest influence, corrupting the nobler partner (as is often the case with Christian teens who refuse to deny an unhealthy romantic attraction because they’re on a mission to save the object of their affection).
conclusion: After recent turns in the cheeky cheerleader hit Bring It On and the forgettable high school comedy Get Over It, Kirsten Dunst bounces back with a deeper project that fully showcases her ability. She’s very good. Hernandez (of the MTV series Undressed) holds his own as this tortured Juliet’s gallant Romeo. In fact, Crazy/Beautiful is a teen film of slightly above-average quality and intelligence, which makes the objectionable material all the more disappointing. Cultural issues, family dynamics and the virtue of a solid work ethic are bathed in foul language and dashed by a casual attitude toward premarital sex. So much for the movie’s ambition and insight.
TV Guide quotes Dunst—trying to break out of "cute girl" roles—as saying, "It’s weird because I’m at this place where I’m very comfortable with my own body, but I have this role model thing. I know that some kids do look up to me. Recently, I’ve been wondering, ‘Have I been too sexy?’ I think sometimes it’s sexier not to show too much, and I think that’s where I’m headed now." Let’s hope so.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
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Kirsten Dunst as Nicole Oakley; Jay Hernandez as Carlos Nunez; Bruce Davison as Tom Oakley, Taryn Manning as Maddy; Lucinda Jenney as Courtney Oakley