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Representing a criminal waste of acting talent, Krystal, the latest directorial effort from William H. Macy, suggests, along with last year’s misbegotten effort The Layover, that he might be better off sticking to acting. Featuring an estimable cast including Rosario Dawson in the title role, Nick Robinson (so terrific in the recent Love, Simon), Kathy Bates, Macy and his spouse Felicity Huffman, this is the sort of determinedly quirky would-be comedy that induces far more cringes than laughs. A quick exit from theaters is assured.
Despite the title, the film revolves less around Dawson’s character — the sort of proverbial ex-hooker/stripper/heroin addict/alcoholic who nonetheless miraculously looks years younger than she is — than 18-year-old Taylor Ogburn (Robinson), a young man suffering from a rare heart condition that causes him to go into palpitations whenever he experiences any form of stress. He also experiences repeated visions of a gleefully evil Satan-like figure resembling the man who ran over his dog as a child. Because, well, it’s that kind of movie.
Release date: Apr 13, 2018
When Taylor meets the gorgeous Krystal on a beach, just the sight of her clad in a wet t-shirt sends him to the emergency room, where she promptly passes out while watching him being attended to. He immediately develops an obsession for the much older woman that’s clearly meant by screenwriter Will Aldis to be adorable and charming but instead seems like creepy stalking. That Taylor speaks in an exaggerated Southern drawl (the film is set in Savannah, Georgia) and sounds like a character from one of Tennessee Williams’ lesser plays (“I have a very old soul,” he assures the highly skeptical Krystal) only adds to the unintentional campiness.
As Taylor desperately pursues the object of his affections, going so far as to attend her AA meeting and pretend to be an alcoholic, numerous complications, if definitely not hilarity, ensue. It turns out that Krystal has a paraplegic son, Bobby (Jacob Latimore, Sleight), only two years younger than Taylor and confined to a wheelchair since he was accidentally run over by his father who abandoned the family shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, Krystal’s ex-boyfriend (rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris) shows up to cause trouble, leading to, among other things, a chase involving Bobby’s motorized wheelchair.
When Taylor brings Krystal home to meet his eccentric, artsy family, including his father (Macy), mother (Huffman) and older brother (Grant Gustin), the encounter results in more forced wackiness. Audience members will get no points for guessing that Taylor’s father recognizes Krystal from her former life and that she remembers him as “Spanky.”
William Fichtner provides some amusement as a sardonic emergency room doctor who attends to the various characters’ illnesses and injuries far too often, while Kathy Bates shows up in the thankless role of Taylor’s mentor who is revealed to be suffering from terminal cancer.
Other than the luminous Dawson, who somehow manages to rise above the hackneyed material, none of the principal players emerge from this cinematic wreckage unscathed. Director Macy emphasizes the comedic aspects of the material in such overly broad fashion that Krystal begins to resemble a demented sitcom that could only have benefited from a laugh track.
Production: Great Point Media, Dog Pond Productions, Pantry Films, Tangerine Pictures
Cast: Nick Robinson, Rosario Dawson, Jacob Latimore, Grant Gustin, Tip “T.I.” Harris, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, Kathy Bates
Director: William H. Macy
Screenwriter: Will Aldis
Producers: Rachel Winter, Dan Keston
Director of photography: Adam Silver
Production designer: John Collins
Editor: Ben Baudhuin
Composer: Dan Romer
Costume designer: Deirdre Elizabeth Govan
Casting: Venus Kanari, Mary Vernieu
Rated R, 93 min.
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