Drew Barrymore is an extremely talented director and a amazing actress, but there’s really something to be said about putting together a film production in a rush. Barrymore’s directorial debut was the hilarious, poignant and retro-cool Whip It, and she certainly has the knack for shedding beautiful light on otherwise darkly lit subcultures.
Her second effort behind the camera is a music video / short film Crazy For You. Technically, the film’s impetus was a music video for the song “Our Deal” by new wavy shoegazers Best Coast. If you don’t recognize the band by name, you’ve probably heard their hits “Boyfriend” and “Gone Again” at least a few times on your local college radio.
Barrymore attests to having only had two days to shoot this film and in those two days, having to pull off 100 shots per day, according to a cute Pitchfork.com interview with her. Whether that’s how it actually went down or not, the film is clearly a little scattershot and could have easily been edited down to fall into the three minutes of the actual song “Our Deal.” Instead, we get an extended version which rather clunkily incorporates a veritable mash-up of Best Coast tracks.
The problem is it all feels too forced for the colorful, punk rock flyer filming style which Barrymore downright owned (neigh, revitalized) in Whip It. Honestly, Best Coast has a little too atmospheric of a quality for Barrymore’s edgy kind of modern love story on the skids. So even though there’s a few other issues with the film (keep reading), the biggest to me is the music is too weak for this story, none of it feels gritty enough for the attitudes which the characters are supposedly portraying. There’s basically two punk rock attitudes at work here – Barrymore’s and Best Coast’s – and like strong magnets, they’re repelling each other.
Crazy For You is merely shades of Romeo & Juliet and West Side Story when you can tell it desperately wants to be streaks of Sid and Nancy and The Outsiders. The lead actress Chloë Moretz wants to be kick ass (ha! get it?), but unfortunately looks more likely to topple over in the studded Doc Martens she’s bopping around in. No, seriously, there’s a at least a couple shots where you can actually see her trying to keep her balance – and it’s not like these “gangsters” are shooting up in the sewers of L.A.’s off-limits viaduct/”river,” so you can’t attribute these wobbles to her being shitfaced and/or fucked up. What’s worse – one of the first shots in the film is of the two gangster girls using a rope to carefully let themselves down into the graded walls of the viaduct. A rope!!? No self-respecting bad-ass ‘bows-dropper is going to worry about scraping a tiny hole in their skinny jeans sliding down the concrete walls of the dirty California landmark.
The simple storyline is really sweet and the plot is basically Romeo and Juliet up until the point where Veronica (Moretz’s Juliet character) doesn’t want to be part her gang “The Night Creepers” (and no, they’re not creepy in the least), and wants to run away with the boy who stole her heart, but who also happens to be in their rival gang “The Day Trotters.” One word I’m sure you will never hear a gang member say in your life is “trot,” “trotting, or “trotter.” I’m willing to bet you. Regardless, when she asks him to run away with her – in their meet-cute way of writing important notes to each other on their own hands – he takes the cute a step further and pops a can of spray paint from his back pocket to tag his answer on the wall next to her. Let’s just say it’s not what she expects.
Later, his gang faces off with her gang on the roof of a nearby building. In the toss up that ensues, Veronica clocks her man in the face (unrealistically) knocking him off the edge of the building to the pavement below. It’s then, that the film becomes bittersweet in it’s plot, but the combination of acting edgy by non-edgy actors, the milquetoast production design and costuming (the gangs’ names look like they were stitched or ironed on just a day ago), and the ill-fitting Best Coast score make the good ending seem almost kitschy.
I can’t wait for Barrymore to direct another film of her own, I really think just from the work on Whip It she is an auteur in her own right, but this entry in her oeuvre is one we can overlook. For completists and other cinephiles out there though, click here to watch it.