Crazy Heart

 
(i)

 

Bridges shines in adult tale of alcohol and country music.
  • Review Date: December 13, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 112 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie isn't exactly a "feel-good drama," but it does have underlying positive messages. Bad starts out in a rut, his fame and glory faded, but eventually he finds the strength to strive toward something better, overcoming the problems that keep him down. He reaches rock bottom before climbing back up, but the movie celebrates his bravery and dedication.

Positive role models

Bad starts out the exact opposite of a positive role model. He's a drunk, he has a son he hasn't spoken to in decades, he holds a grudge toward his former protégée, he feels sorry for himself, he neglects his gift for writing songs, and his career is in the dumps. But a new friendship/relationship inspires him to improve himself from the ground up, which is a powerful example. Jean is an admirable character: a working single mother who seems to have her head screwed on straight.

Violence

Some verbal uprisings from time to time -- mostly Jean (and sometimes others) confronting Bad about his drinking. But Bad rarely fights back and never lifts a finger against anyone.

Sex

Jean and Bad do a lot of kissing -- open-mouthed and not shy. There are no sex scenes, but it's definitely suggested that they've slept together. They wake up in the same bed and are apparently naked under the covers (no real nudity is shown). Earlier in the film viewers see Bad leaving a groupie's bed; again, sex is suggested rather than shown. Another groupie openly flirts with Bad in a bar, suggesting a night of wild passion.

Language

Bad frequently uses the kind of language you might expect from a road-weary, drunken, veteran musician, including "f--k" and "f--kin'," "s--t," "ass," "goddamn," "Jesus Christ" (used as an exclamation), "hell," and the abbreviated "sumbitch." That said, the swearing grows less frequent as the movie goes on.

Consumerism

The only real products seen are the various bottles of booze consumed by Bad, though none of it is deliberately or blatantly referred to by brand.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One of the movie's two main plotlines has to do with Bad's out-of-control drinking. He drinks constantly, mostly hard liquor, and he grows agitated (though never violent) if he can't get it. Viewers see him leaving the stage during a show to throw up in a garbage can; he throws up again later and passes out on his bathroom floor. He drives drunk, and he takes gulps of alcohol to stop his shaking hands. His wake-up call comes when his need for a drink endagers someone he cares about -- a turning point that ultimately leads him down the road to recovery.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Crazy Heart -- which follows a middle-aged musician's (Jeff Bridges) failing career and the major drinking problem that's contributing to that failure -- is clearly aimed at grown-ups. Unless teens have an interest in classic country music (or in actor Colin Farrell, who has a small supporting role), it's unlikely that they'll be clamoring to see it. In the event that they are, they'll find plenty of food for thought and some good music ... as well as some very strong language (especially during the movie's first half) and tons of drinking (including drunk driving), until the main character has an important wake-up call.

What's the story?

Country music singer Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) once had a hit song but now languishes in obscurity, playing dive bars and bowling alleys, drinking constantly, and feeling bitter about the success of his one-time protégé Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). After one show, Bad meets music journalist Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and makes a connection with her and her 4-year-old son, Buddy. He agrees to reconcile with Tommy and begins playing bigger shows, but he can't keep his drinking under control. He eventually hits rock bottom, but can he still turn his life around? And if so, at what price?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Like a good country song, CRAZY HEART has an appealing, easygoing vibe for most of its running time, despite Bad's severe drinking problem. Likewise, it never puts the audience through the ringer with too much melodrama; each of the plot turns happens very matter-of-factly and organically, as if natural extensions of the characters.

Bridges is the real selling point here. He gives a wonderfully layered performance, full of joy and pain and weariness. Supporters Gyllenhaal, Farrell, and Robert Duvall are terrific as well -- Bridges, Farrell, and Duvall can even be heard doing their own singing. The movie derails in the final stretch as Bad finally embarks on the road to recovery; it's a bit too fast and neat and more than a little proud of itself. But until then, it's a nice little movie.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the conseqeunces of drinking a lot. Does it lead to alcoholism? What are the consequences Bad pays for drinking? How does the media usually portray drinking?

  • How does Bad's alcoholism impact his relationships with others (including Tommy and Jean)? What about his feelings about himself?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 16, 2009
DVD release date:April 20, 2010
Cast:Colin Farrell, Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall
Director:Scott Cooper
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Genre:Drama
Run time:112 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and brief sexuality

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bylulabee May 2, 2010
 

adult themed

The younger woman's relationship with a man 20 years her senior is a bit unsettling as are some of the more sexual scenes, like the one where she's lying back on him in her bra and underwear and he slides his hands down her panties.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written byMike L March 20, 2011
 
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byaanaart1 March 24, 2010
 

e.g. Perfect for any adolescent with some maturity to grasp the core issues.

Other reviewers and the plot line summary are already written here. Alcoholism is addressed. The portrayal is accurate, and heart-wrenching. The concept of a mental aillness with a physical allergy isn't made strongly enough. The main character's "bottom" is plausible, his beginning in Alcholics Anonymous is shown slightly. The one "meeting" isn't true to AA, so that may create inaccurate expectations to alcoholics and non-alcoholics. But at least an attempt was made in the script. The love story is well done. Enveloped in the chaos of active drinking, we see both characters try to make contact. It is a glood feeling. The message of themovie is redemption. A new life can be begun. A heart can change. Grace and goodness can enter a broken soul and redeem all. The goodness of an alcoholic when he is sober is shown. The acting is worthy of the Oscar for Bridges. This is his master work; at least thus far in his acting career. All the supporting cast is marvelous.. All adults, and definitely aldolescents would be touched, and uplifted by this film. The parents should judge the maturity of their child since it would be boring to a mind too young to grasp the core stories. A must see movie just because you shouldn't cheat yourself out of the great pleasure of a gem of a movie.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages

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