Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #218
Director: Paul Haggis
Starring: Don Cheadle and Matt Dillon
We've reached the end of Travesty Week, and it's a good thing, because this vein bulging out of my forehead is starting to worry me. But seriously, today's movie is Crash. Like American Beauty, Crash inexplicably won a Best Picture Oscar. Actually, it's very easily explained: Hollywood kingmakers felt that racism needed to be addressed, Crash addressed it, and they decided to crown it as some kind of profound statement – and America bought it.
It's not that there shouldn't be movies about race relations. In fact, there definitely should. But this one isn't realistic, or even particularly well-made. Through a ridiculous and impossible series of random encounters, we're all supposed to realize that everybody's a little bit racist? Sure, that's the immediate effect, but if you actually think about Crash for two seconds, the only proper course of action is to roll your eyes. This movie is the worst thing that can happen for race relations, because it shows a glimmering veneer of inner city racism where no one gets murdered and where there is always a catharsis and a teary-eyed message. A bunch of movie stars tell us not to be racist anymore, and nobody gets hurt. That's nice, but it's not how race relations really are in this country.
That brings me to an even more key point. Do the Right Thing, the 1989 film by Spike Lee that showed a much more disturbing – and accurate – vision of race. SPOILER ALERT: That film culminates in a race riot sparked by a white cop murdering a black rap fan, and escalated by who we believe to be the film's protagonist. There is no catharsis, no resolution. We see a violent act committed for which there will be no trial. We see a pizza shop burned to the ground by angry African Americans. Then we see the next morning, where nothing has changed and the white boss has to give the black employee his money. The day begins pretty much the same as the previous day. That is how you depict race relations. Not with Don Cheadle saying mean things about Latinos.
The Good: A few of the performances are actually really good.
The Bad: The script could have been written by a high school kid.
The Skinny: This needs to be off the list, and Do the Right Thing very badly needs to be on it.