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Jonathan Demme directs this joyous relentlessly kitschy celebration of 50's America: opportunity, rock'n'roll, and the road. He follows three generations of women and the men they pick up, for a crime spree from California to the old family homestead in Arkansas. Written by
Concorde - New Horizons (with permission).
Any movie that opens with a montage with typically nostalgic images of life in the 1950's, and to the wondrous tunes of "All I have to do is Dream" by The Everly Brothers, is half of a winner already in my book. I instantly presumed that Jonathan Demme's "Crazy Mama" would become a massively entertaining 70's road-movie/parody exploitation flick, full of memorable highlights and delightfully eccentric characters, but that turned out a little bit disappointing to be entirely honest. The movie kicks off energetically and tremendously joyous, but runs out of steam surprisingly fast. When evicted from her Californian beauty parlor, enraged mother Melba mobilizes her daughter and mother to head back to Arkansas and reclaim the family farm grounds that were violently taken from them in 1932. Hiking along are daughter Cheryl's surfer boyfriend and a trio of a flamboyant weirdos the gang picked up in Las Vegas, including macho hunk Jim Bob, gambling addicted senior citizen Bertha and greasy biker kid Snake. The deranged motley crew leaves a trail of armed robberies and kidnap conspiracies from West to East, but the biggest confrontation with the law awaits them in Arkansas. In spite of the speedy pace, "Crazy Mama" is overall rather dull and repetitive. I also would have preferred the film to be more violent and gritty, instead of comical and trashy. The performances are pretty lackluster, with Cloris Leachman not really fitting her role and Don Most being a bleak imitation of the characters Ron Howard played in the sixties and seventies. Stuart Whitman is cool, though, and Linda Purl depicts a lovable 70's exploitation wench. The only aspect that remains brilliant throughout is the soundtrack full of golden oldies, like "Lollipop" and "Running Bear". "Crazy Mama" is the third and final feature in trash-producer Roger Corman's unofficial Mama-trilogy, with "Bloody Mama" and "Big Bad Mama" as its predecessors. I'm surely going to track down those, because they look a lot cooler than this "Crazy Mama". Director Jonathan Demme has had one of the most uneven careers in Hollywood, for sure! From the sloppy Women-in-Prison flick "Caged Heat" onto exploitation flicks like "Crazy Mama" and "Fighting Mad" and towards more serious thrillers like "Last Embrace". In the 80's, Demme directed a few TV-movies, popular comedies and a lot of Neil Young videos before hitting it big with Academy Award winning blockbusters "Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia".
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