Crazy in Alabama

Stars: Melanie Griffith, Lucas Black, David Morse, Meat Loaf

“Crazy in Alabama” is like watching two entirely different movies in one: a comedy about a woman who kills her husband then carries his head around in a hatbox as she goes to Hollywood to become an actress and a drama about race prejudice in Alabama in the sixties. That’s a lot of movie rolled into one.

The truth is, both stories are interesting. It’s just odd that they’ve been jumbled together because one has little to do with the other, except for the relationship of the characters.

Lucille (Melanie Griffith) does in her abusive husband and cuts off his head. Now she’s off to Hollywood to become a star. She drops off her seven kids over at her mother’s and says goodbye to nephew Peejoe (Lucas Black), her favorite, after telling him the story in all its glorious gory details.

At the same time, their town is experiencing lots of anti-black sentiment since the they’re right in the middle of the civil rights movement. Lucille’s brother Dove (David Morse), the town’s funeral director has the sad job of cleaning up all the messes that Sheriff Doggett (Meat Loaf) leaves behind. The latest is a dead black teenager who staged a sit-in to be able to swim at the public swimming pool.

The film jumps between the two story lines. Lucille makes a splash in Hollywood while blacks are being beaten in Alabama and Dove stages a protest of his own by threatening to go to the grand jury in hopes of ousting the murderous sheriff. The element that ties the story line together is the sheriff’s intent to catch and see Lucille fry for the murder. Dove and Peejoe hold the cards to keep that from happening.

This is Antonio Banderas’ directorial debut. Not a bad job – just an unusual choice. Melanie Griffith plays her usual ditsy warm hearted gal with spunk; Morse is always good and I like watching him; Lucas Black from “Sling Blade” and TV’s “American Gothic” is one of my favorite young actors. Also features Cathy Moriarty as Aunt Earlene.

Look for Rod Steiger as the feisty judge at the end; some very funny lines and behavior!

Lotta says I liked it – somehow the pieces to this strange jigsaw fit and made a decent picture after all.