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The Crossing Guard (1995)

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Freddy Gale is a seedy jeweller who has sworn to kill the drunk driver who killed his little girl.

Director:

Sean Penn

Writer:

Sean Penn
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... Freddy Gale
David Morse ... John Booth
Anjelica Huston ... Mary
Robin Wright ... Jojo
Piper Laurie ... Helen Booth
Richard Bradford ... Stuart Booth
Priscilla Barnes ... Verna
David Baerwald David Baerwald ... Peter
Robbie Robertson ... Roger
John Savage ... Bobby
Kari Wuhrer ... Mia
Jennifer Leigh Warren Jennifer Leigh Warren ... Jennifer
Kellita Smith ... Tanya
Richard C. Sarafian ... Sunny Ventura (as Richard Sarafian)
Bobby Cooper ... Coop
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Storyline

After his daughter died in a hit and run, Freddy Gale has waited six years for John Booth, the man responsible, to be released from prison. On the day of release, Gale visits Booth and announces that he will kill him in one week. Booth uses his time to try and make peace with himself and his entourage, and even finds romance. Gale, whose life is spiralling down because of his obsession towards Booth, will bring himself on the very edge of sanity. At the end of the week, both men will find themselves on a collision course with each other. Written by Anthony

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Some lives cross, others collide.

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 November 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Crossing Guard See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$832,910
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Miramax See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Editor Jay Cassidy, Sean Penn allowed Jack Nicholson to make editing choices for two weeks without Penn's involvement, trusting Nicholson's eye for filmmaking, being a director himself. See more »

Goofs

Peter's hair position changes when he says the famous line, "Did you get butt-fuc**d in prison?" and after John replies "It only hurts the first time". See more »

Quotes

Joe: So listen to this. I'm coming out of the bathroom, right, and these two Orientals, they're arguin', they're hollerin', they're screaming at one another. And all in Japanese. So I told 'em, I said "Ay! You're in America now, speak Spanish."
See more »

Crazy Credits

Clyde is Hungry Watchdog - Dr Edward Katz See more »

Connections

References Bright Eyes (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Unspoken
Written and Performed by David Baerwald
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Missed Opportunity
30 July 2015 | by aj989See all my reviews

The film opens with a rather strange juxtaposition of two scenes. One features a group of grieving parents discussing how they have dealt with the loss of their children. The other features a topless stripper playing with fire. The Crossing Guard at its heart is how people deal with grief differently and the consequences those choices have for all. Some parents would prefer to pour their heart out. Others choose more destructive outlets, like patronize strip clubs. Jack Nicholson, the father of a girl killed by a drunk driver, spends some of his nights at strip clubs, while Anjelica Huston, the mother of that girl and Nicholson's ex-wife, spends time listening to those grief stricken parents pouring their hearts out. Like that opening juxtaposition the film's points are hit with all the nuance of a sledgehammer pounding in a nail.Therefore, little attention is paid to how Huston's character attempts to come to terms with the death of her child; instead, the focus is on how Nicholson destructively grieves for his daughter. Of course he wants revenge. And of course this quest for revenge, the film tells us, doesn't solve anything but only further eats away at him.

Nicholson, who still seems to be in Joker mode from his stint in that role in the Batman franchise, is as over the top as one might expect. The character he's saddled with is a difficult one to play to be sure, but Nicholson makes his character so over bearing and indignant that his presence soon becomes toxic. Instead of exploring his character's inner grief and psychology the film would rather just show his temper tantrums. David Morse, as the drunk driver who killed Nicholson's daughter, is, by contrast, and surprisingly, shown as some kind of repentant saint. He knows what he did, feels terrible about it, and tries to communicate it to an obstinate Nicholson. But in general Morse isn't given much to do other than stare into space stoically. Huston, however, it must be said is quite good even if the film doesn't really care about her and only utilizes her to show how crazy Nicholson's character has become.

The middle part of the film, where Nicholson parties with some strippers (including Three's Company's Priscilla Barnes) and Morse's character meets up with some bohemians, is a total bore. Another subplot of Morse falling in love with Robin Wright Penn adds nothing to the plot other than act as filler so the film can reach the standard 120 minute run time. Finally, the closing sequence of the film, which includes a chase (or in Nicholson's case a fast walk) through LA and ends with a kumbaya moment in a graveyard as the sun is slowly rising and the tedious score swelling, is totally ridiculous.

What's most disappointing here is that at its core The Crossing Guard could have been a good film. Sean Penn has directed other fine films (especially Into the Wild) and Nicholson, at least prior to the '90s, is a first-rate actor. But totally lacking nuance in performance and story and weighed down by a miserable second half and a hokey conclusion renders this film instead largely a failure.


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