This dark, twisted romance squanders some seriously untapped potential.
The first thing you’ll notice about “Crash Pad” is the talent involved.
Christina Applegate, Thomas Haden Church, Domhnall Gleeson and Nina Bobrev.
Applegate is such a spectacularly underutilized actress that I often sit at my desk and stare out the window, true story, imagining projects that would let her talent shine through.
Church has seen a remarkable comeback since the brilliant, “Sideways.” He shined in HBO’s “Divorced” even though he had little chemistry with co-star Sarah Jessica Parker. Gleeson is a rising talent with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Ex Machina” and my personal favorite, “About Time,” on his resume.
And Bobrev is legit.
So anything that’s wrong with this film can’t be blamed on poor acting or a lack of talent.
I’m happy that the talented editor behind “Sideways,” Kevin Tent, is stepping up to the Director’s chair. Yet while the editing in “Crash Pad” flows smoothly it lacks heart and real emotion — exactly what this story needs to make it work.
We meet Domhnall’s lackadaisical Stensland just as he’s wrapped up a weekend in bed with the beautiful Morgan (Applegate). She informs him that she’s married and this was just a fun weekend fling to get back at her cheating husband.
Stensland, being the male equivalent of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” (normally played to perfection by Michael Cera), is devastated. He thinks he’s fallen in love with Morgan and doesn’t take the brush off well.
FAST FACT: Actor Domhnall Gleeson’s famous father, actor Brendan Gleeson, left a teaching gig at the age of 34 to try acting. His son, now 34, already has a long list of credits on his resume.
He gets a bit creepy-stalky when he chases her down at her work and demands money to stay silent about the affair. The audience isn’t sure if this is just a lame puppy-dog like attempt to win love back or if he’s serious.
Into this mess steps Church’s Grady who finds out his wife has cheated on him and wait for it… here’s the twist… he decides not kill his sexual rival but rather move in with him.
Hilarity ensues. Or it should, anyway.
The premise falls flat, and we’re not sure if we should be rooting for Morgan, Grady or the Manic Pixie Adolescent Man Boy who just committed a felony by trying to blackmail his weekend fling. Here’s what’s good about the movie: Grady and Stensland have actual rapport and it turns into a quirky buddy film.
There are some funny scenes between the two, the relationship feels genuine, and as both start to realize what they have in front of them (Grady an amazing wife, home, and career and Stensland an opportunity to work towards those things) the movie clicks.
But “Crash Pad” spends way too much time in and out of bars and behind the bong to explore how the two might help each other grow.
Is this worth your while? If you’re sick in bed with the flu, stuck on an international flight or looking for something harmless … sure.
If you’re eager to see this theme done right check out HBO’s “Bored to Death.” The series nails the Man-Boy partnered with the accomplished adult anxious to reclaim lost youth to perfection. (So happy that HBO is making a feature length movie of “Bored to Death.”)
So what are we left with?
Applegate should hold out until the right project comes along. There’s got to be something, there just has to be.
Church is so good as the reckless buddy that it’s time for “Sideways 2.” Gleeson and Bobrev are serious talents to keep an eye on.
Tent proves he has the chops to be a director; he just needs a bit more backbone in order to rein in the various film elements into something emotionally tangible.
As is, too much of “Crash Pad” goes sideways.