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Like Crazy DVD Review

Like Crazy (2011) movie poster Like Crazy

Theatrical Release: October 28, 2011 / Running Time: 90 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Director: Drake Doremus / Writers: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones

Cast: Anton Yelchin (Jacob Matthew Helm), Felicity Jones (Anna Maria Gardner), Jennifer Lawrence (Samantha), Charlie Bewley (Simon), Alex Kingston (Jackie Gardner), Oliver Muirhead (Bernard Gardner), Finola Hughes (Liz), Chris Messina (Mike Appletree), Ben York Jones (Ross), Jamie Thomas King (Elliott), Amanda Carlin (American Consulate Woman), Barry Sabath (Professor), Keeley Hazell (Sabrina)

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Young love is a tough subject to dramatize because what seems so special and unique to the parties involved strikes so many others as anything from immature to nauseating. Such stories often have difficulty winning over more than just young people who are either in relationships or would like to be.
The trick to satisfying a wider audience is to have genuine insight into the universal ups and downs of love. Otherwise, you can try a romantic triangle involving a vampire and a werewolf.

Like Crazy avoids the supernatural in favor of the secular, showing us a relationship at its infancy. L.A. college student Jacob (Anton Yelchin) receives a declaration of feelings from abroad British classmate Anna (Felicity Jones) on the windshield of his car. Love soon follows, with laughter, kisses, romantic walks, Paul Simon music, and a handcrafted chair inexplicably inscribed with the titular phrase.

Jacob and Anna are inseparable, so much that she can't even bring herself to return home when her student visa expires. This causes problems for her when she returns from a long week away and finds herself detained at the airport by immigration officials for her violation. Jacob flies to England to spend time with Anna and the young couple even gets married to surmount their travel hurdles, to no avail.

Jacob Helm (Anton Yelchin) and Anna Gardner (Felicity Jones) are so like crazy in love that they don't even need to look at each other.

As they wait for her red tape to clear, some cracks begin to form in the young relationship, from jealousy to work obligations; Jacob tries to run his small L.A. carpentry business while Anna finds herself promoted as a magazine writer. With Anna's visa application still being processed, the two part and almost immediately find affection elsewhere: Jacob in his bookkeeper Samantha (Jennifer Lawrence) and Anna in her hunky neighbor Simon (Charlie Bewley). Their feelings for each other, however, seem to linger, casting uncertainty over their romantic and geographic futures.

Like Crazy is remarkably the fourth feature film written and directed by Drake Doremus, a man who turns just 29 at the end of this month. Chances are you haven't heard of the first three: debut Moonpie has been shelved since 2006, while Spooner and Douchebag have made the festival rounds, the latter also receiving very limited theatrical release.

Boasting a fairly hot leading cast, Like Crazy, co-written by Douchebag (notice the italics) producer and star Ben York Jones, became Doremus' biggest film to date, winning the dramatic Grand Jury Prize at 2011's Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Paramount. The studio made it the year's only release to bear their mostly retired specialty division brand, Paramount Vantage. Rolled out to a maximum of 162 theaters last fall, the film did moderate business, ultimately grossing $3.4 million, a bit less than the $4 M Paramount reportedly paid for it, but considerably more than the $250,000 Doremus claims to have spent making the film.

One doesn't doubt that shoestring budget because Like Crazy is a small, intimate drama and has the offbeat, indie sensibilities of such a thing. Much of the film is clearly improvised. Little of it ventures outside bedrooms and apartments. The limited means remove any inkling of artifice and the central romance is more realistic for it, but it's not without a few problems.

Back in America and separated from his girlfriend, Jacob (Anton Yelchin) gets cozy at a dance club with his employee Sam (Jennifer Lawrence). Anna's parents (Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead) are supportive of her relationship, attending the marriage signing they suggested to ease the distance.

Chief among them is that it's tough to understand and appreciate Jacob and Anna's relationship. Girl takes improbable step of affixing a love letter to a windshield, tickled boy appreciates it, and head-over-heels love ensues, primarily over hard liquor. You see the romance and buy it, but it always feels scripted, not real (ironically, Doremus has stated there was no script, only a detailed 50-page outline). For that matter, the characters don't feel entirely real; they rarely interact with others or behave in normal young adult ways.
Their burgeoning careers are an afterthought and their feelings for each other become incredibly fragile. You don't doubt that Doremus is writing from experience, a feeling that the director's end credits-acknowledged Austrian ex-wife confirmed with her stories of her own immigration challenges. There are some stretches where the relationship strain is utterly believable, as when the couple gets separated in a crowd and are not on the same eating schedule. But the film suffers from not having a clear vision and organized script. It meanders and is awfully quick both to separate and reunite Jacob and Anna.

On the whole, this is much more realistic than most movie romances and its opting for maturity over mushiness is greatly appreciated. But, Like Crazy just feels a little too raw and underdeveloped, as if Doremus didn't want to let too much of his failed marriage available for public consumption. Still, there is enough promise of a better film for Doremus' career to merit watching. There is already some buzz for his next movie, a thus-untitled, 2012-scheduled marital drama starring Guy Pearce, Amy Ryan, and Jones.

Missing Valentine's Day and taking its time, Like Crazy comes to DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow.

Like Crazy DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($39.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


The spontaneous, frugal nature of production is reflected in the DVD's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Scenes are often underlit or display the technical limitations of lower-end digital video. The element is clean, but not terrifically defined, leaving the jerkily-edited handheld scenes soft and flat. Similarly, a fair amount of the dialogue that drives the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is not very clear, making it likely that you'll need to consult the English subtitles or closed captions on occasion.


There is just one bonus feature on the DVD, easily missed on the Set Up menu. It is an audio commentary by director Drake Doremus, editor Jonathan Alberts, and cinematographer John Guleserian. It is a down-to-earth discussion, pointing out filming locations and conditions, actor story contributions (clearly, Yelchin and Jones should have been a part of this), editing choices, various deleted threads, and cutting the film to a PG-13 rating. It's an okay but forgettable listen.

The DVD also includes a digital copy. Well, sort of. An insert within the Eco-Box keepcase gives you a unique redemption code and directions to use UltraViolet to stream the film to your assorted devices. I'm not a digital copy user, but those who are have voiced their preference for actual iTunes and Windows Media files over unreliable streams that could disappear at any time. But since Paramount DVDs never previously offered any digital copies, this is a step-up for tech-savvy customers.

Included on the Blu-ray but not this DVD is a collection of deleted and alternate scenes.

The scored main menu remains fixed on the poster shot that was lightened for the DVD cover. Additional selection screens are also static but silent. The "Previews" listing plays a trailer for Young Adult before repeating all the ads which play automatically at the head of the disc for A Thousand Words, Footloose, Hugo, and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Like Crazy's own trailer is sadly not included.

Anna's (Felicity Jones) airport detainment by immigration officers is artistically shot from a distance from a partially obscured angle. Anna and Jacob enjoy a rainy stroll together in England.


Like Crazy makes appealingly earnest attempts at realism, but it is ultimately a little slight and too unscripted to resonate as it hopes to. Still, for an offbeat low-budget alternative to glossy Hollywood romance, it's interesting enough to recommend a viewing. The DVD's feature presentation isn't outstanding, but that is the result of a shoestring guerilla production rather than any disc-authoring misdeed. The exclusion of the Blu-ray's deleted and alternate scenes, however, is unfortunate.

Buy Like Crazy from Amazon.com: DVD + UltraViolet / Blu-ray + UltraViolet / Instant Video

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Felicity Jones: Cemetery Junction • Brideshead Revisited • Chιri | Jennifer Lawrence: X-Men: First Class • Winter's Bone
Blue Valentine • The Graduate • Going the Distance • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World • Adventureland • Youth in Revolt • Dear John
2011 Indies: Last Night • happythankyoumoreplease • Terri • Cedar Rapids • Our Idiot Brother • The Guard • The Tree of Life

Like Crazy Songs List: Paul Simon - "Crazy Love, Vol. II", Dustin O'Halloran - "Opus 37", The Ruby Suns - "Closet Astrologer", The Mary Onettes - "Century", M83 - "I Guess I'm Floating", Dustin O'Halloran - "Opus 55", Asobi Saksu - "Thursday", The Tallest Man on Earth - "The Wild Hunt", The Radio Dept. - "Closing Scene", Figurine - "S.O.S. (Remix)", Figurine - "IMpossible", Stars - "Dead Hearts", Fool's Gold - "Surprise Hotel", Goddamn Electric Bill - "Less Evil", A Winged Victory for the Sullen - "Minuet for a Cheap Piano N. 2", Dustin O'Halloran - "Opus 26", Goddamn Electric Bill - "Pull the Lever", Dustin O'Halloran - "Fragile N. 4", J.C. Lines - "Plumb Crazy", Dustin O'Halloran - "We Move Lightly"

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Reviewed March 5, 2012.

Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Paramount Vantage, Indian Paintbrush, Super Crispy Entertainment, and 2012 Paramount Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.