Crazy People (1990)
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Emory and Steve (Dudley Moore and Paul Reiser) are ad executives who need to come up with new advertisements in a hurry. When Emory's relationship falls apart, he becomes disillusioned with the whole business of lying and makes up some honest ads. As his partner, Steve is naturally concerned, and has him committed to a mental hospital. While they're doing that, the honest ads accidentally get printed. People everywhere are told that they should fly United Airlines because, quote, "Most of our passengers get there alive." This is just one of the hilarious and truthful ads we get to see in the film.
When the honest ads become wildly popular, the head of the ad agency wants Emory to come back to work. He doesn't want to leave the hospital, so the members of his group therapy group become ad writers to help him. As it turns out, the lunatics are very good at writing honest commercials. The New York tourism campaign was particularly good. Ad #1 told us that "It's not as filthy as you think," whereas Ad #2 assured us that "There were fewer murders last year."
There is a bit of tension in the middle of the movie, but I'm not going to spoil that for those people who haven't seen it yet. Trust me, it's worth the rental price. If you're looking for a good laugh, get ahold of this movie. If you're looking for intelligent discourse on the subject of dishonesty in society or mankind's relative dishonesty with himself or others, rent something else along with this movie.
One more ad, in case you're not totally convinced yet: "Metamucil: It helps you go to the toilet. If you don't use it, you'll get cancer and die."
Go on. You know you want to. Okay, go to the toilet first. But then, rent this movie!
"Crazy People" talks about two types of nut cases: ones that are committed to institutions and the others who think they are normal and live on the other side of the wall. Of course, the main crux of the story is when Moore's life takes a nose-dive and he cracks, writing brutally savage ads for some very well-known products ("Quaker Oats - How does it taste? Who knows, but at least the BOX is cute"). Of course, nothing tops the tag line he makes for that horror movie "The Freak" or the ticket lady's comment about this movie later on.
His bosses put him away and then, when his printed ads catch fire and turn advertising on its ear, they recruit him to write more. Only this time, he gets the others in the asylum with him to write ads, too.
Now, this part is funny.
What isn't funny is when they start to take the story seriously and try to shoehorn drama into parts where it doesn't make every single person out as some level of wacko. Drama has its place but not in a movie that takes potshots at Metamucil.
Moore is really great, this is his last really funny role since "Arthur". Reiser has some good scenes as does Hannah, Walsh, Paymer and Ruehl and then there's the ads. My gosh, has there ever been anything ever written as funny as these? Not since "Mad Magazine", really.
"Crazy People" is at least half great; the craziest things in it, though, are the people who thought it should have serious parts.
Five stars for "Crazy People" - watch it for the ads.
The ads themselves are hilarious, as are some of the scenes. There is one very funny scene in which calloused and savvy advertising execs try to write honest ads, but find they are too jaded.
The film could have done without a subplot involving a romance between Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah. Other than that, it is definitely worth your time.***
The main criticism of Crazy People - the unnecessary romantic sub-plot - can easily be overlooked when compared to how solid it is at its core. There is real value to be found here, which is not something that can be said for most pieces of entertainment.
Roger Ebert said it "has more really big laughs in it than any other unsuccessful comedy I've seen." Entertainment Weekly gave it a "D-" calling it out for "unintentionally celebrating" advertising. Vincent Canby of the NY Times also hated it to pieces, which really rubbed me the wrong way until I noticed that he felt the same way about both Rain Man and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. (Whatever, Vince - if you wanted to see people eating their own poop in the quest for realistic depictions of asylums, you were squarely in the minority.) I feel that Variety hit the nail on the head with their brief synopsis: "Crazy People combines a hilarious dissection of advertising with a warm view of so-called insanity." Hollywood's daily V-rag also noted that two weeks into shooting, two big changes were made: Dudley Moore replaced John Malkovich, and writer/director Mitch Markowitz lost the directing gig to Tony Bill. Not really relevant here, but interesting.
I know this wasn't the best review, but I'm not a professional writer and don't have an editor. I hope you find it adequate (or even helpful).
The ads are fun. The idea of satire on the advertising industry has promise. The execution has some fun moments with the crazy people group. The romance however has no heat. Hannah is nice but there is little chemistry. The Drucker villain is too broad. The satire has no bite. It's not horrible but it's forgettable.
The problem is that he starts to go nuts and has a huge breakdown because he wrestles with the morals of what he is doing, that is to say he gets tired of lying to everyone through his ads and starts telling the truth. A lot of the ads he makes are really funny and they end up going into magazines and onto television without his bosses knowing, so that when they are discovered he gets fired and sent to live in an insane asylum because they assume he's crazy.
While living there he meets Daryl Hannah who he falls for and a lot of other nice people with mental problems, and when his ads are surprisingly a huge hit his company wants him to come back to work, but he wants to take all his new friends along for the ride.
"Who here wants to be a fire truck?"
Big laughs in this movie!
And this is where the comedy really takes off. Moore's character is confined to an institution, but in the meantime his spoof adverts are accidentally sent to press. As things turn out; the truth has more appeal than lies (why do ad-men and politicians find that so hard to accept?). In the asylum, the plot enters its 'second phase', as we are introduced to a bunch of people with all manner of comic and tragic conditions. It is they who take up the thread of humour in this part.
It is also here that things go awry. A romantic sub-plot is farcically attempted by the introduction Of Darly Hannah as a love interest for Moore. Like him; she has also been committed for some reason.
The story then struggles between these two digressing strands and the whole plot is stretched too thin to cover them. Dudley Moore was 55 by the time he worked this movie, and much too old to play a romantic lead with a 20-something inmate. Their relationship begins to look uncomfortably like abuse. Darly Hannah has a wonderful face and figure, but not much else. Her coy-and-vulnerable-beauty is a role she would reprise to the letter in 'Splash' with Tom Hanks.
There is a happy ending as you would expect; but by then, so many wheels have come off that you no longer take the joke seriously any more. It's a pity John Guilgud wasn't used instead of Ms Hannah. He could have been an insane politician turned philosophical mentor, or some such thing. The plot would have stayed on-track and the gags could have kept on coming. The pairing had already been shown to be a winning formula in 'Arthur'. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby demonstrated that such a franchise could work in the longer-term with their 'Road To...' series.
For the most part, this is well worth a watch. Just be ready to make some coffee or get a beer or something when the maudlin and implausible romance takes over. Unless you're a fan of Ms Hannah's physical charms, that is.
This was pretty well Dudley Moore's last Hollywood outing. If he'd been 20 years younger I think he would have made the ideal candidate for 'Splash'. But the studios needed a younger vulnerable-funny-guy, and Tom Hanks seems to have been Moore's natural successor. He wasn't as funny, but he wasn't so short and had youth on his side. He was also a yank.
If you think this is good, then try 'Bedazzled'. You'll see Cuddly Dudley both at his most endearing, and at the high point of his pairing with Peter Cook.
For anyone who is in the marketing or advertising business, it's hysterical - the fact that mental asylum residents can produce more effective ads than most of the art directors at the agency is a riot. This movie is full of fun, and will have you remembering a few clever lines. I enjoyed this movie for its advertisements which show the power of truth. The script gives Moore's supporting cast some definite pathologies, but doesn't make them pitiable or outright laughable. Even if this light film falls out of your head, the sympathy given the "crazy people" will stick with you about as long as the catchy ideas they dream up.
Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
However there are many redeemable appearances, most notably from, Mr George Cartelli.
Hello. Hello how you doin? His expertly delivered catchphrases will live on, in my life, and the lives of my many future grandchildren. And how could they not. The man who has said nothing but Hello since 1977, comes alive in what is without question, the funniest 'crazy' character to come out of the silver screen, .er...ever. Are the rumours of TV networks fighting over Cartelli's pilot sitcom true?
Don't worry: it is not a psychological study but a comedy. The only problem is that I don't laugh often: maybe with the taglines of the ads, the performance of David "Hello" Paymer...
How much the leading actor (Dudley Moore), the endless casting of J.T. Walsh as a bad guy, or a bad script (I didn't see much insanity from the patients) have to do with my dozing, it's hard to tell.
In conclusion, an average movie where the only flavors are its 80's spirit in America and Hannah in a romantic character.
His latest idea is honesty which doesn't go down too well with the boss, so Emory is sent to a psychiatric hospital to 'recover'.
Meanwhile, back at the office, Emory's work is accidentally sent to the printers.
His ads are a huge success. But now Emory has fallen for Kathy (another patient) and so doesn't want to leave.....
This is one of those simple movies, that disappeared without a trace, but is funny and endearing, thanks to the characters and some of the ads on display.
The story is simple, it's good versus bad, the rich versus the insane, and just when you think they are all on a par, the rich people take all the credit and leave the insane, well, sane.
But then it all goes well at the end. Films like this are ten a penny, but thanks to Moore and the writers, this film is very witty, occasionally verging on silly with the use of profanity (there was really no need for it).
The only problem with this, and it is a big problem, the relationship with him and Hannah is boring and pointless, and slows the whole film down.
But if you want a laugh at genius ads, and random lines, you can do a lot worse.
Plus J.T Walsh is brilliant.