CRAZY IN ALABAMA, adapted for the screen by Mark Childress from his own novel, is the confused and decidedly unsuccessful directorial debut of actor Antonio Banderas. The chief problem is that Banderas fails to smoothly blend the comedic and dramatic elements of the story, which is about the summer of 1965 in Alabama. Peejoe (Lucas Black, SLING BLADE) is a 12-year old who, along with brother Wiley (David Speck) lives peacefully with his grandma until one day Aunt Lucille (Melanie Griffith) arrives and drops off the seven kids produced during her thirteen year marriage to husband Chester, whom she promptly admits to having just murdered.
From this early point forward, the movie is disjointed. Peejoe, who is forced to move in with Uncle Dove (David Morse, dependable as usual) and Aunt Earlene (Cathy Moriarty) is telling the story, but attention is split unevenly between him and Lucille, who is traveling around the country with Chester's head at her side as she makes her way to Hollywood, where she intends on becoming a star. She is glamorous, she is crazy, but the character is too poorly developed for her to have so much screen time. Peejoe, who is in Alabama thinking about his aunt, standing up to support the civil rights movement and joining Dove in a face-off with local sheriff John Doggett (Meat Loaf) is more interesting, and Black more impressive in his role than Griffith in hers.
Though it does have it's (few) moments, it really falls apart toward the end. The supporting cast includes John Beasley as a grieving father, Rod Steiger as Judge Mead and Robert Wagner as Harry. Fannie Flagg (author of FRIED GREEN TOMATOES) and Brad Beyer (the straight roommate in TRICK) have bit parts.
DVD Details: Another excellent Columbia release. Priced at $24.95, the CRAZY IN ALABAMA Special Edition DVD contains commentaries by Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, a photo montage narrated by Banderas called "A Director's Passion," deleted scenes with director narration, a blooper reel, making-of featurette, production notes, talent files, and theatrical trailers for both CRAZY IN ALABAMA and BODY DOUBLE.
The widescreen presentation, which preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, is nearly flawless. The image is crystal clear, with rich, vibrant colors, natural flesh tones and sharp detail. Audio options include Dolby Digital 5.1 and a 2-channel soundtrack. The Mark Snow score sounds great and everything is easy to hear and understand. English subtitles. Though I can't say the same for the movie itself, the DVD is terrific.