Each
post, I revisit films I loved as a lad, most of them inappropriate
given my tender age at the time, and decide if they still pass muster.
Spoilers–and sickening, bizarre, rambling, love/frustration with
Alicia Silverstone–follow.


Moment
of reflection: I had this poster hanging in my bedroom from summer 1994
until about fall of 1999.  I special ordered it from Rick’s Movie
Graphics and had to sneak dollar bills from my mother’s purse every
week for about two months to pay for it.  It was also the first time I
ever went to the post office and purchased a money order.  The woman
behind the glass told me I was very mature for my age.  The early 90s
were a confusing time for us all.

The Crush  (April 2, 1993)


The Joey Gist:  I
saw this opening weekend with my Uncle Nicky at the Whitestone Cineplex
in the Bronx, NY, which really added to the film’s quaint New England
ambiance.  I was ten years old, and (proudly) wore (dangling outside of
my Freddy Krueger t-shirt) the gold Batman pendant with JOEY inscribed
he’d given me the Christmas before.


The Film’s Gist:  Handsome,
bookish, slightly British journalist Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes, in his all
too brief and all too inexplicable heydey) moves into the guest house
of the affluent Forrester family for a new job at some super important
magazine strangely located in a
supposed-to-be-Connecticut-but-obviously-Vancouver “city.”  He runs
into (well, almost runs over) the Forrester’s precocious, prodigious,
and purdy 14 year old daughter Darian (Alicia Silverstone) as she
carelessly rollerblades across the street in Daisy Dukes and Ray Bans.
In an iconic–and clearly I mean iconic only in mind–shot, she lowers
her sunglasses, gives Nick the once over, rolls her eyes, then rolls
away. But he won’t be seeing the last of her, naturally… Darian, as
per convention, develops an unhealthy infatuation with Nick, whom she
manipulates masterfully, like drifting away from a family party onto
the balcony by herself because she just
myknows
that Nick, who feels like such an outsider with the rich folks, being
but a wee journalist in blue jeans and a tweed coat, will follow her
out, listen to cry about being “different” and a “freak” and having no
real friends, and then inappropriately touch her face and reassure her
that
he
is indeed her friend.  Well, this happens, she takes him to see some
lighthouse, then she plants a wet one right on his gob, and boom! she’s
got dirt on him.  Other bouts of crazy ensue, such as Darian rewriting
the most important article of Nick’s career (and
making it 4,000x better as it usually goes in such films), leaving him
gifts, calling him incessantly whilst sunbathing outside of his
apartment to see if he can “come out and play,” to way crazier fare
like throwing a beehive in Nick’s lady friend’s darkroom, and faking
her own rape with a (ewww, you’ve been WARNED) used condom taken from
Nick’s trash can.  This all builds up to one of those intense,
confrontational, batshit crazy finales that, if you’ve been following
this blog, you know are just about my favorite thing in the world.


What I Thought Then:  At
eleven years old, I started writing a movie review book, one that
absorbed three marble notebooks.  Using one of those fat video guides
as a reference (the one with the dog on the cover that used milk bones
instead of stars), I went through it and marked down every film I’d
ever seen, gave it a starred rating, and a brief review blurb.  Now, I
don’t have these notebooks anymore–believe me, it’s one of the great
tragedies of my adult life–but if memory serves, and it usually does,
my review surely went a little something like this: “
The Crush
is a stunningly original, jolting, spine-tingling erotic, intelligent
thrill-ride sure to become a classic. Alicia Silverstone gives one of
the most captivating performances in movie history, rivaling Debra
Winger in
Terms of Endearment and Meriel Hemingway in Star 80.”  (Yeah, it probably didn’t go quite like that, since the only thing I can remember about Star 80
was being too afraid of Eric Roberts’ dirt-stache to keep watching, but
I’m sure I was equally emphatic, hyperbolic, and egregiously verbose).


What’s Still Good:  Despite its run-of-the-mill Generation X/Diet Fatal Attraction conceit, The Crush
really was an impressive debut for Silverstone and, when rewatched some
16 years later (fuck, I’m old), reminds me of the potential she had to
be an enduring actress.  Of course, I hope whoever her agent was at the
time is living in subsidized housing somewhere in West Baltimore
because talk about ruining someone’s career by letting them make the
most inane series of terrible choices
ever:  an
episode of the shitty Showtime hour-long drama “Rebel Highway” (her
installment was called, ahem, “The Cool and the Crazy”), a bunch of TV
movies, the straight to video blah-fests
True Crime with Kevin (!) Dillon and The Babysitter,
just to name a few (I won’t lie, I watched those last two repeatedly
but only out of loyalty to Ah-lee-see-uh). The reason this is such an
atrocity is because she was riding high on her Aerosmith video trilogy
fame, was practically a household name at that point, and probably
should have been given her own TV show immediately.  Fortunately,
Clueless
came out and we all know it’s a classic and at least she’s got that
under her belt forever, but she shat on it rather quickly after with
Batman and Robin.  (“No. I’ve got you.”  Fail. Sigh.)

ANYWAY, back to what’s good about The Crush,
aside from Silverstone’s squeaky, crazy-eyed, tangerine peel pout, and
honey hair (I bet it smelled like honey too. Yum.).  Amber Benson, who
had a bit of a post-
Crush career with a role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer
(though, I must admit, I never, ever watched that show, as a devout
loyalist to the original film starring Kristie Swanson and Luke
Perry–and don’t you worry, that’ll definitely make an appearance here
in the coming months), plays Darian’s best friend Cheyenne, a sweet
girl who seems to pity Nick the moment she meets him because she knows
the tornado of crazy her friend is going to unleash on him.  She, of
course, gets injured during a horse race or horse jump or whatever
equestrians do, and we know it’s because Darian rigged her saddle so
she’d fall off and stop running her mouth to Nick, but she makes an
admirable attempt at the end of the movie to reach out to Nick after
he’s been arrested for the rape.  Of course, Darian winds up somehow
knocking Cheyenne out and tying her to this creepy carousel that the
Forresters keep in their attic–which is where the tense final minutes
of the film take place.  Anyway, there’s not much to say except that
she is very competent in her perfunctory role, and she balances
Silverstone’s over the top whining menace nicely.  Jennifer Rubin also
pops us as Nick’s aforementioned girlfriend who has the bees set loose
on her, and I’ve had a soft spot for Rubin since she played Terri, the
heroin addict switchblade chick in
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
She too is given a fairly stock role (in fact, everyone has a stock
role), but she does what she can with it, and her one-on-one scenes
with Silverstone are fun.


Graham
Revell’s score is actually pretty effective, though it serves the usual
function of spoiling the “surprises” by coming in just a second too
soon.  In an unusual and maybe kind of brilliant move, all of the songs
seem to have been exclusively written and recorded for the film. It
really adds to the imagined “world” of the film, I think (I know, I
know, I’m clutching at straws here but it’s kinder than saying they
only had $47.50 Canadian dollars in their budget for music permissions
and those opening credits would have seemed silly if Nick was driving
down a freeway smiling at himself in the rear-view without music)
.  They all kind of sound
like something you’ve heard before, but then you realize you haven’t,
and it’s because they are not “real” songs.  And despite the fact that
my $30 poster from Rick’s Movie Graphics and the film’s end credits
promised that a soundtrack was available on Morgan Creek Records, I
assure you it was
not
I know this becuase I tirelessly phoned every Coconuts in the northern
New Jersey area trying to find a copy (as my dear friend Suzanne
Richardson understands all too well, I was obsessed with movie
soundtracks back in the day), and eventually spoke to someone at Morgan
Creek Records.  It was explained to me that they scrapped distribution
of the soundtrack because they didn’t believe there’d be enough
interest.  Little. did. they. know.


What’s Not So Good:  Cary Elwes.  Look, I’ve always had a deep affinity for Elwes–in fact, when I spotted him in Saw
and realized he’d brought an extra 45 pounds with him, my love for him
grew exponentially–and I’ve enjoyed nearly every movie he’s ever been
in (how dare that douchebag Russell Crowe star in a “reboot” of
Robin Hood when Elwes’ Men in Tights
exists?), but the guy can’t act.  Or maybe he can act.  But he can’t
hide his British accent.  Not at all.  He tries.  He tries hard. But
it’s always like he’s got chewing on the side of his tongue and pulling
his eyelids back to try and keep them open while he sneezes or
something.  Whatever the issue, it doesn’t work, especially when he
shouts.   And I’m no actor (though my psychic intuitions tell me quite
clearly that I’ll be discovered for a sitcom any day now that will
allow me to raise my eyebrows comically at least twice per ep), but I’m
pretty sure that’s something he should have gotten a handle on before he left finishing school.

Otherwise,
I mean, there’s nothing to hate on too hard with this film because, as
painful as it is to admit, there’s nothing to really love on either. 
It’s pretty inoffensive, it’s pretty short (85 minutes, credits and
all*), and it certainly only has an R rating for street cred and
nothing more.  It’s predictable the whole way through, but I don’t
think anyone expects the unexpected with this one.  You might get a
kick out of seeing the dad from “That 70’s Show” and searching your
brain for an instance when he wasn’t playing the same exact character
brilliantly intertextualized into every project he’s ever done.


The Current Gist
“Dear Alicia, I miss you.  What happened to that pilot you were filming
for ABC with Megan Mullally and Maeby from “Arrested Development”? I
really wanted to see that.  It’s because some idiot cast Horatio Sanz
in it, right? I knew it.  As soon as I saw that he was involved, I said
to myself, “This will never get picked up.  Because fat or not, Horatio
Sanz is not funny, nor sexy, nor not irritating.”  I hear you’re doing
a vegan cooking show (meh), and then maybe
Clueless 2?  Yeah, yeah, do that! That’ll be fun.  They’re making a Scream 4 next year too.  Because that’s what I need.  Two more reasons to regress back to 1996.  Keep me posted.  Love, Joey.”

5/10

*Fun Fact:  For some weird reason, if you ever catch The Crush
on TV, it will have a gaggle of extended and deleted scenes in it, none
of which were showing in theaters or included on the DVD.  And, get
this, Darian’s name will be changed to Adrian.  No, really.  Every time
someone says her name, their voice will be overdubbed (in different
actors’ voices it seems), like in one of those cheap Spanish horror
films my father used to rent, put on for three minutes, sigh and say,
“This is crap.  And I’ve already rented it before.  Twice.”  Apparently
the screenwriter based the story on a true incident and used the actual
crazy girl’s real name and they had to change it.  I find this
hilarious. That is all.