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"LIKE CRAZY"
(2011) (Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Two college graduates try to carry on a long-distance relationship.
PLOT:
Jacob (ANTON YELCHIN) and Anna (FELICITY JONES) are students in Los Angeles who begin a romantic relationship, but then find themselves in a quandary. She's supposed to spend the summer with her parents, Jackie (ALEX KINGSTON) and Bernard (OLIVER MUIRHEAD), back in England, while he'll remain stateside. She decides to risk violating her student visa, a decision that comes back to haunt them as once she does return to London, she's not allowed to re-enter America.

As a result, the two try to carry on a long-distance relationship after graduation while getting on with their lives where he builds furniture in the U.S. and she takes a writing job for a magazine across the pond. Although they occasionally see each other when he visits, their time apart results in him falling for his assistant, Samantha (JENNIFER LAWRENCE), while Anna ends up having a relationship with Simon (CHARLIE BEWLEY).

With time passing by, Jacob and Anna must decide if and how they can resolve their situation and whether they're meant to be together.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
Most kids don't realize before or even during the time, but the most important things one learns in college aren't necessarily what are found in the textbooks or even in class. Often times they're the life lessons one picks up along the way, such as how to live away from home, how to work under a budget and that, to quote the old J. Geils Band song, "love stinks."

Okay, maybe the latter is a little harsh, but let's face it -- many a student heads into college starting or desperately holding on to some sort of long distance relationship. For some, the boyfriend or girlfriend is a year or two behind and still in high school. For others, the pair had or opted to attend different universities.

And for those that manage to survive through college and especially those that form during those four (or more) years, graduation brings about yet more separation and long distance issues. The root cause of much of this is that love is blind, and those in such situations simply don't see the handwriting on the wall until it smacks them upside the head like a two-by-four reality check.

Similarly, movie reviewers sometimes blindly fall in love with films and try to keep that positive relationship going after the brief two or so hour fling in a dark theater. For any number of reasons, they go all googoo gaga over a certain film and don't realize until hindsight later kicks in that what they loved really shouldn't have drawn such a strong reaction.

Such would seem to be the case with "Like Crazy, a somewhat cute but not terribly attractive romantic drama about the trials and tribulations of such long distance relationships. The recent winner of the Twin Cities Film Festival as well as the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature at the Sundance Film Festival, the pic has the attractive qualities many a film reviewer likes.

For starters, it's a welcome respite from the dumb big budget blockbusters of the summer, predictable romantic comedies, the increasingly popular and ever-present gross-out comedies, sequels, remakes and films that are only in it for the potential money. As a small indie flick where character rules over all other aspects of the production, it's ideally situated to elicit love from many a reviewer and art house aficionado.

For others like yours truly, however, it's likely to elicit a response of "That's it?" after sitting through its 90-some minute runtime and especially with such award qualifications and related buzz surrounding it. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly not terrible, and everyone's clearly free to have whatever opinion they want. But with a little time and distance away from the flick, methinks many an initial fan will soon forget much of what the film offers.

And that's basically a look at a young couple (Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones) who, upon graduation from college, try to maintain and sustain a very long distance relationship. The problem is Jones' Anna was in the States on a student visa and unwisely chose to stay past its expiration date. As a result, she's been banned from reentering the country, while Jacob's burgeoning furniture design business prevents him from pulling up stakes and moving over to England.

He occasionally gets across the pond for some brief visits, but the strain of their time and distance apart is all too apparent. The two performers certainly make all of this believable and even a bit heart-breaking, often in moments of silence where one can easily read, see, sense or otherwise feel their romantic despair, pain, longing, anger and more percolating just at and below the surface. Some of that occasionally erupts, and the damage of said emotions eventually results in the two ending up in other relationships (with the characters played by Charlie Bewley and Jennifer Lawrence, the latter who's terrific but sorely underused).

At this point, most sane people would cut their losses and move on, but the two young (and strained lovers) are pig-headed romantics who feel the need and have the belief that they can work it out. A running related subplot features the complication of them trying to get her visa violation stricken but running into various obstacles, even after the two marry as a potential workaround.

And thus we go 'round and 'round but ultimately don't really get anywhere except to the obvious realization that the two are selfish in terms of withholding their love from those who are obviously right, not to mention right there, for them. As a result, some viewers might just grow tired of the cycle of blind love, no matter how accurate a depiction it might be.

While I wanted to really like the pic, I just didn't find it my type and thus no blind love ever developed. Diehard romantics and those looking for a subdued indie flick might have a different reaction. In the end, I simply wasn't that crazy for "Like Crazy." It rates as a 5 out of 10.




Reviewed October 4, 2011 / Posted November 9, 2011


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