“Crazy Heart”

Everyone seems to agree that Jeff Bridges is awesome. This is probably due to his iconic performance as the Dude in “The Big Lebowski.” I agree with everyone else regarding the Dude, but otherwise I don’t have much experience with him. I can’t really picture him in anything but a bathrobe. And here I am with “Crazy Heart,” his supposed tour de force. The performance is good, I’ll give him that. But the movie as a whole?

“Crazy Heart” is conventional just about all the way around. It’s a standard drama without any unpredictable elements. The protagonist is a self-destructive former country star, spiraling downward. He’s coasting on past fame, but he’s near the end of his line. He wakes up in the morning and brushes his teeth with whiskey. At night, he prematurely exits the stage through the back curtain to throw up.

Long movie short: he meets a charming young reporter with a cute dimpled son. They fall deeply in love. He keeps swigging whiskey in the bathroom. Eventually, he screws things up bad enough to lose her. Then he goes clean, to the relief of everyone.

Maybe if I liked country music more than I do – none at the moment – I would like the movie more. But the film felt like a twenty-million dollar Hallmark movie. The performances were good, but not great. I frankly don’t know why Jeff Bridges’ acting was so heavily lauded in this case. He was exceedingly apt in the role, but I don’t find it much of a stretch for such a seasoned actor. All he had to do was squint, talk with a cigarette-tinged growl, act drunk, and be good with kids.I suppose he also had to sing and stuff, but isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you’re playing a country singer? We shouldn’t set the precedent of giving an Oscar to every actor who showcases some range. At least Jamie Foxx was doing a dead-on impersonation in “Ray.”

I’ve seen this movie many times before. Just in a different costume. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t get the girl, but he stays clean! He regains his dignity!  And the movie’s big song, “Crazy Heart,” plays on the soundtrack for the severalth time as the credits roll.

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