Cary Elwes - Nick Eliot
Alicia Silverstone - Darian/Adrian Forrester
Jennifer Rubin - Amy Maddik
Kurtwood Smith - Cliff Forrester
Gwynyth Walsh - Liv Forrester
Amber Benson - Cheyenne
Matthew Walker - Michael
Genre - Thriller/Teen/Crazy Chicks
Running Time - 88 Minutes
At 30 years of age, I've been with my share of women. I haven't had a serious relationship in a while, but that's because I don't need that sort of drama right this minute. More often than not, I will have girls approach me on the street or in the subway, obviously flirting with me for a date or something more. Unfortunately, they end up being jailbait - girls under the age of 18 that aren't worth going to prison for. I prefer my women a bit older and mature, thank you. Thankfully, none of them have gone as far as stalk me, try to murder one of my pets, or sneak into my room one night to hurt the Big Bad Wolf between my legs. That stuff needs to be saved for when you're actually in the relationship! What? You thought future marriage is based on trust? Who told you that? Dr. Phil, that quack? Psh!
Seriously, I'm hoping I never had to deal with a girl like that, even if she's as hot as Alicia Silverstone was in 1993's THE CRUSH. Take 1962's LOLITA, add some 1987's FATAL ATTRACTION to the mix, and you got yourself a teen thriller about an underage crazy broad who'll do anything to seduce the older man she's infatuated with - even if she has to hurt him and possibly kill him to make him see how much she loves him. Who says romance is dead? As if!
Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes) is a writer who moves into some guest house that belongs to an upper-class family named the Forresters. The dude finally settles in his new digs, has a pretty snazzy job as a journalist, and even gets to bang his photographer (Jennifer Rubin). What could go wrong?
Oh yeah...the Forresters' fourteen-year-old daughter Darian - or Adrian, if you've only seen the home video version (Alicia Silverstone). Darian/Adrian has a really unhealthy obsession with Nick. She sunbathes outside his window. She's built a lovely, totally sane, shrine for Nick underneath his apartment. She writes his articles a lot better than he does, emasculating him. She bites her lips alot and pouts in a seductive way. You know, Sweet Valley High stuff.
Unfortunately, Nick [even though he kisses Darian/Adrian] isn't interested in Darian/Adrian like that. That doesn't really make Darian/Adrian happy. And when Darian/Adrian isn't happy, bad things come to Nick and the people he's closest too in pretty extreme ways.
Maybe she saw her future as Batgirl in that awful BATMAN & ROBIN flick. That would drive anyone loopy.
THE CRUSH is a terrible film. It's incredibly predictable. The acting isn't that great. The narrative is pedestrian. It's just ridiculous from beginning to end.
God help me that I enjoy this film for those reasons alone.
THE CRUSH is one of my guiltiest pleasures. It's not a good film in any sense of the word. But it's entertaining because of its flaws. Unfortunately, I can't just grade this film on its entertainment value alone, as the actual filmmaking has to be put into question here. So let's see what THE CRUSH does right and does wrong.
Like I said, the narrative is pretty generic and predictable for THE CRUSH. Director and writer, Alan Shapiro, mixed the concepts for LOLITA and FATAL ATTRACTION into one film but forgetting to add what made those two films so powerful and pop culture icons to begin with. LOLITA was controversial for its time and even today for its subject matter - adults having sex and falling in love with minors. The film is effective because of how daring it is and never apologizing for something that's considered immoral. We get moments that are obviously nods to LOLITA in THE CRUSH. The first meeting between Nick and Darian/Adrian is pretty much ripped off by a scene in LOLITA [both female characters looking over their sunglasses as they meet their potential suitors]. The setup with this underage girl using her sexuality to lure this older man into her web is also a page out of LOLITA. The problem is that THE CRUSH really isn't ballsy enough to make this sort of premise work the way it should.
In fact, I think the lack of edginess hurts the FATAL ATTRACTION portion of the film. The most Nick does with Darian/Adrian is kiss her. He never has sex with her - at most seeing her naked while he hides in her closet. I can understand why this girl would feel scorned. After all, a kiss at that age is a big deal for any teenager. But to go through the lengths she makes in order to get this guy's attention, good or bad, is a bit far-fetched since Nick didn't really do anything bad to her except lead her on a bit. If Nick had slept with Darian/Adrian and then rejected her out of fear, that's different because it gives Darian/Adrian's motives more weight. In this case, she would want to take something from him since he took something from her. It makes sense. A simple kiss doesn't really carry that much weight in my opinion, making Darian/Adrian more crazy and desperate rather than scorned and vengeful. The sex issue could have also made the audience debate whether he deserved to be punished or not, since it's still pretty much considered taboo. While 2002's SWIMFAN, which is a teeny-bopper remake of FATAL ATTRACTION in itself, also not that great of a film, at least the nutjob in that film has a motive for what she does since the main character sleeps with her while cheating on his girlfriend. If that happened here, the entire premise would have been more effective.
The characters are also underdeveloped here as well. More background on Nick could have helped his character greatly. Is he always attracted to jailbeat? We don't know, but it seems so since he's so into Darian/Adrian during most of the film. He hangs out with her. He leaves his bathroom door slightly open while she's there as he's naked inside. He kisses her. He watches her sunbathe for longer than any older man should. He even tells Darian/Adrian that he wishes she was older. The guy obviously has some issues here, but they're never explained. Hell, we don't even know why he moves inside this guest house. Where did he live previously? Why was he so desperate for a home? The only thing I know about this guy is that he's a dumbass who falls for every trap this fourteen-year-old girl puts him in, making his situation worse than it was before. Nick is so gullible and naive that we can't respect him at all. In fact, we root for Darian/Adrian because she's always three steps ahead of the guy. He pretty much lucks out at the end really, which is not how a protagonist should be written.
Amy's character is also an enigma. She's insecure about herself because she feels Darian/Adrian is prettier and more intelligent than her. She's in a relationship with Nick that only happens because it's a screenwriting tool. I'm sure if she went outside without her camera every once in a while, she'd find a man who is more mentally and sexually stimulating than Nick. But since Nick is a good-looking guy and the only one in the film that's in her age range, he's a keeper! She's also afraid and allergic of bees, which is there just for Darian/Adrian to use this information against her in one of the better [and funnier] scenes of the film.
The Forresters are your typical ignorant parents. Nothing more, nothing less. And Cheyenne, Darian/Adrian's best friend, is the kind of character you want to root for because she has the goods on Darian/Adrian and wants to help Nick use them against her. But she also comes across as idiotic since you would think she would know that Darian/Adrian would be watching her every move and making sure that none of that info leaks out. The only thing she does of note is get her shoulder separated and tied up to a carousel in the Forresters' attic.
As for Darian/Adrian herself, she's the only interesting character in the film. This is because she comes across so over-the-top and crazy that she's refreshing to watch. Plus, she actually moves the film along by doing nasty things to others. She taunts Amy with great dialogue about men liking women with small breasts. She calls Nick's phone over a 100 times as he's ignoring her, not caring how desperate she's acting. She attacks Amy with bees after Amy sleeps with Nick. She takes Nick's used condom, puts the semen inside of her, beats herself up, and claims he attacked and raped her. She injures Cheyenne by loosing the saddle on Cheyenne's horse before she rides it. There's so much else that this girl does, which makes us interested in what she will do next. I would have liked to have known why Darian/Adrian seems to continuously be obsessed with older men [maybe she was aspiring to be a Playmate with a show on E! or something], but we know enough that we're entertained by this crazy bitch.
In fact, the lack of character development here makes this silly film that more endearing to me. Since I can't really relate to anyone, it's like riding a roller coaster that's mindlessly fun as you ride it, but forgettable after it's done. Instead, you want to try a bigger, more interesting looking roller coaster. THE CRUSH is just a brain dead movie that just seems to go through the motions, making you wonder how this was deemed suitable for a theater run instead of being made for TV or directly for the home market.
Speaking of theaters and home markets, I should explain the whole Darian/Adrian deal here. When THE CRUSH was released to theaters back in 1993, Alicia Silverstone's character was named Darian. Once the film started to make a bit of cash, it was revealed that some of the actions Darian takes in this film were based on a real person with the same name. The real Darian's parents were concerned that the story hit too close to home, forcing Shapiro to change Darian's name to Adrian for cable and VHS/DVD/Digital home markets. Watch real closely and you'll hear "Adrian" dubbed anytime "Darian" is said, which is quite visible as the actors clearly say the first name while the second is heard. Pretty funny stuff.
What's also funny are the body doubles used in this film. Want to see Cary Elwes' butt? Well look somewhere else because he has a body double. What about Alicia Silverstone's ass? Nope, also a body double. Hell, Silverstone even has a body double during the end where Darian/Adrian attacks Nick with a poker. Instead of SIlverstone, we have a man dressed in her clothes and wearing a wig going mental on Nick as Silverstone's voice is heard yelling that she loves Nick. While I find that pretty sad, it also makes me laugh. So at least it did something right.
Also for a film that's supposed to be LOLITA and FATAL ATTRACTION, it's extremely tame with no major nudity or sex scenes. Bad language is used. The violence is never all that bloody, even though that punch from Nick to Darian/Adrian that sends her flying 15 feet at the end is pretty hysterical. Like I said, it could have been edgier. But then again, you're catering to teens, so it has to be watered down for its demographic.
Alan Shapiro does an okay job directing THE CRUSH. It's pretty much a point-and-shoot affair, with some bits of stylistic choices and nice use of angles every now and again. The pacing is very well done, as it feels right for an 88 minute film. And there are some genuine moments of tension and suspense, even though there could have been a lot more of it. The direction by Shapiro is not that good to base a class around or anything, but it gets the job done mostly.
The acting in THE CRUSH, while a mixed bag, is always entertaining and heightens the watchability factor of the film. Alicia Silverstone debuted in this film, even though it would be the Aerosmith videos that came along afterwards, as well as CLUELESS, that would make Silverstone into a star. But it's easy to see why people still talk fondly about her. Silverstone handles the part well, even though she does overact at times, but it fits the character she plays. She was even underage while making this film [legally emancipated at age 16 just to film this role], making her seductive interactions with Cary Elwes creepier than before. She's just really convincing in this movie. I could talk about the many flaws THE CRUSH has, but she's not one of them. She carries this film and does it admirably.
Cary Elwes, on the other hand, just seems lost in the role as Nick. He's usually capable and very decent in most of his roles, but he doesn't really give Nick much dimension, which is why I can't really relate to this character. Plus the accent goes in and out quite frequently, making me wondering why Shapiro didn't just have Nick be British instead. Not one of his finer roles as an actor. Jennifer Rubin is definitely better as love interest, Amy. She doesn't do a whole lot in the film, but she's always good whenever she's onscreen. I always liked her. The other actors, especially Amber Benson [pre-Buffy fame] and Kurtwood Smith, are decent as well.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE INTRODUCING DARIAN/ADRIAN TO R. KELLY
- Smoking a cigar helps Nick think. It obviously didn't work for Bill Clinton during his Presidency...
- Darian/Adrian assured Amy that some men like small breasts. She's right. For example, Popeye. And Bluto. And...um...maybe Wimpy. And uh...I'll get back to you on this one.
- Cheyenne injured her shoulder while riding her horse. No wonder she went gay and dated Willow. Riding that stallion scared her off.
- Darian/Adrian tried to murder Amy with a wasp attack, knowing she was allergic to them, leaving her "Cryin'". It's really "Amazing" that this "Crazy" bitch can get away with this. I guess Darian/Adrian isn't CLUELESS after all!
- Darian/Adrian falsely accused Nick of sexual assault, even finding a used condom with his semen to create "evidence". Funny...I thought MEN IN TIGHTS had low semen counts. Guess I was wrong.
THE FINAL HOWL
Even though it's not a well-made film on a story level, THE CRUSH is still mindless entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less. It won't change your life. It won't make you rush out for more Alan Shapiro films since nothing he does is remotely original or unique. But some of its flaws can lead to a lot of laughs, and possible drinking games, making THE CRUSH one of those films that's so bad that it's kind of good. Not worth "Rollin' With the Homies" for, but a decent time filler whenever it's on television.
2.5 Howls Outta 4