Movie Review By Heather Clisby
With all the aging boomer rock bands recently staging these unsavory comebacks, "Still Crazy" is a film overdue. Meet Strange Fruit, an English group that formed in the late 60s, peaked in the early 70s and had a widely publicized, bitter break-up with each Fruit storming off to resume separate lives. Fast forward to 1998 and the question of "Where are they now?" soon becomes "Who are they now?"
With a real chance to ride the retro wave and reunite for another concert, the band gingerly re-groups at the urgings of former keyboardist-turned-condom-salesman, Tony, played by the understated Stephen Rea. After minimum begging, he recruits the band's former manager and Number One Fan, Karen, played by the lovely, Juliet Aubrey, to join the cause.
One by one, each member is tracked down and convinced to re-visit the past with one last shot at musical greatness. Narrated by the band's happy-to-be-cynical Scottish groupie, Hughie, played by Billy Connolly, we go on a Dutch tour with the Fruits and witness how the passing of two decades changes nothing . . . and everything.
"If men are from Mars and women are from Venus," Hughie says, "then drummers are from Pluto." Thus, we meet Beano, played by Timothy Spall, the band's slovenly percussionist with a fear for tax collectors and an eye for "toothsome strumps." Les, played by Jimmy Nail, is the band's moody bass player turned upstanding family man and business owner, and is constantly bumping heads and egos with the lead singer, Ray.
Played by Bill Nighy, Ray is the film's most interesting character with all the ugliness and fear of a dried up rock star actively not facing his 50th birthday. Living beyond his means with his second Swedish wife, Astrid (played by Sweden's #1 actress, Helena Bergstrom), Ray has been fanning the dying flames of his career by churning out one useless solo album after another. He's a sad, vain, vulnerable character who never really escaped the long shadows cast by Keith, the Fruits founding member who OD'd, and Keith's brother, Brian, the band's resident genius, also presumed dead. Ray endures the most visible and unattractive struggle of all the Fruits and when he chides Beano for his zero maturity growth since the band's heyday, Beano observes accurately, "Well, at least I'm not a wanker."
Directed by Brian Gibson, the script was co-written by Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement, the same guys who gave us "The Commitments." "Still Crazy" is a hilarious, self-effacing look at what happens when life peaks too early and the crowd goes home too soon.
© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 1/20/99
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