The unwritten “rules of manhood” might suggest that seeing a romantic drama sans one’s girlfriend/wife, and/or with no prodding/promises from said significant other makes you less of a man. I would tend to agree with that in most cases. Films like “The Notebook”, “A Walk to Remember” and other token “chick flicks” would certainly apply. So why would I go to a film such as “Like Crazy” when none of the aforementioned criteria had been met? Well, I figured it was a good sign that I was not the only guy interested in seeing it of their own accord, but mostly because it’s Sundance, and I expected something deeper than your average Hollywood romantic drama. I was not disappointed.
Drake Doremus, the director, created a dramatic love story that appeals to both men and women. Right away he captures the males by casting two very attractive female leads in Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence, but they are not so overbearingly hot that he loses credibility with the female audience. I think both sexes can appreciate the acting ability that the actresses brought to the film as well. In fact, Lawrence was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress this year for Winter’s Bone. It’s not just another male director hiring the hottest actress available who has questionable acting ability (think Megan Fox in Transformers…yes, it’s not a romantic drama but just play along). Jones and Lawrance, who play the love interests of Jacob (the male lead played by Anton Yelchin) are sexy enough to satisfy the male audience without being slutty enough to upset the female audience. Plus, the actors give a sense of realism to the film that makes the story very authentic…which anyone who appreciates film can enjoy.
The sense of realism was what moved “Like Crazy” from the dreaded “chick flick” zone into the “solid film” pantheon. Most chick flicks have sappy dialogue and romance that most men roll their eyes at (as they should) while the women melt. This film felt so much like a real relationship that it resonated with both sexes. It felt more like a documentary than an obviously scripted, cliched “Hollywood romance”. This was achieved, as Doremus pointed out in the Q&A, by having the actors improvise most of the film. He wrote about a 50 page outline, rehearsed with the cast, and then shot 30 minute takes of them improvising off of that general storyline. The resulting chemistry and sense of a real relationship from their performances was palpable throughout the film, shout-out to Kate for asking the question that revealed this sweet anecdote.
Additionally, “Variety” points out in its review that the film chooses not to show a lot of the token moments in a relationship that cookie-cutter Hollywood romantic films dwell on, such as the first kiss, first time sleeping together, the elegant proposal, etc. The moments just happen, or are insinuated by the editing/how the story progresses. Jacob is romantic in a way that the average guy can appreciate, and not so over the top that men start to question his manhood. He gives her flowers (which any guy who judges that clearly does not know women), and he builds her a chair, which is symbolic in the story and thoughtful, but also a manly thing to do at the same time. Jacob is sweet enough that girls like him, but strong enough that males don’t question his “man card” status. Again Doremus was able to strike a perfect balance.
That balance is what makes “Like Crazy” a date-night movie that both parties can enjoy. Paramount has purchased the rights to it, so expect to see it in a theater near you in the months ahead. Boys, do yourselves a favor and take your girl to this movie…You won’t regret it, and you can enjoy it without sacrificing your man-card.
Ladies what did you think?
(NOTE: Turns out I was not crazy (no pun intended)…”Like Crazy” went on to win the U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize at Sundance…I swear I wrote this long before that happened)