Friday, March 19, 2010

The Crush (1993)

Directed by Alan Shapiro
Starring Alicia Silverstone, Amber Benson, Jennifer Rubin
Rated R

"Nick, ever do a virgin?"

An exceptionally silly dollop of stalker-lite starring a radiant, apple-cheeked, pre-Clueless Alicia Silverstone as Adrienne Forrester, a fourteen year old (Silverstone was 17 at the time) child prodigy adept at entomology, horseback riding and piano, but horrible at making friends. When magazine writer Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes, Saw) moves into the family's spare guest house, she quickly develops a crush on him, and their innocent flirting takes an ugly turn into obsession.

Kurtwood Smith (That 70's Show, RoboCop) plays Adrienne's sad-sack dad, who has spent the last decade assembling and restoring an entire carnival carousel in his attic just to amuse his couldn't-care-less daughter. Jennifer Rubin (Bad Dreams) is Amy, Nick's co-worker/love interest, and Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is Cheyenne, Adrienne's sorta-friend. Eventually, everyone ends up entangled in smarty-pants Adrienne's web of warped affection.

As in any self-respecting stalker flick, there's a few scenes where the pangs of unrequited love spill over into mayhem and violence - Adrienne scratches "Cock sucker" into the hood of Nick's newly restored vintage convertible and erases the hard drive on his computer, causing him to lose the big story he'd been working on; she sics a nest of wasps after Amy and hobbles Cheyenne during a horserace. Finally, when Nick spurns her advances for the last time, she just has herself beat up, calls the cops, and blames Nick for the assault.

Out on bail, Nick and Cheyenne band together to defeat this beatific-looking monstress. And that's pretty much what happens, although most of the climax is just people yelling each other's names: "Adrienne!" "Cheyenne!" "Dad!" "Nick!"

Filmed with an absurdly light touch by Alan Shapiro - who would go on to helm the '96 Flipper remake - The Crush has all the earmarks of a soapy Lifetime movie (or, going back aways, an ABC Afterschool Special). Sure, our Adrienne is a rampaging, mad-genius psychopath, but she's portrayed by the frothiest actress since Sandra Dee. Alicia Silverstone could pluck out the eyeballs of a bunny rabbit and eat them, and she'd still look adorable doing it. She just cannot radiate menace, which makes The Crush more of an eye-rolling teenage drama about a poor little rich girl than the sexy, nail-biting thriller it was clearly supposed to be. Elwes gingerly walks the fine line between put-upon nice guy and lecherous sleaze, and Smith is great as always in his signature angry-dad role, but ultimately, The Crush is just too cute for it's own good.

- Ken McIntyre


  1. Oh wow. I haven't thought about this film for years. I remember watching this movie with my parents when I was 16 and I was burning with rage during the entire running time. I just wanted to jump into the movie and beat Alicia Silverstone to death. When it was over, I was truly agitated and despondent. How did a movie this bad get under my skin like that? Maybe I was just a dumb teenager.

  2. No better double feature than with 1993's "The Temp," with Lara Flynn Boyle. Same year, same 'younger-people's Fatal Attraction' marketing strategy, similar casting, similar title. After both you feel like you'd feel after eating an entire bowl of sugar. Lousy, but without any of the satisfaction of plowing through a whole cheesecake or something like that.


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