Crazy Heart is a movie with a great character badly in need of a worthwhile story. Jeff Bridges is incredibly entertaining as the washed-up country singer Bad Blake, weariness always lurking at the corners of his eyes with his voice thick and gravelly from decades of drinking and smoking, and while I stand by Sam Rockwell in Moon being 2009's best leading performance I have no problem that Jeff Bridges picked up the Academy Award for Best Actor. Dude's put in his time as a great performer going all the way back to 1971's The Last Picture Show and he deserved it.
But as for the movie around him, sheesh. I honestly never need to see another musician struggle with substance abuse onscreen again. Since it's about a musician struggling with addiction and the love of a good woman it goes without saying that the critics went apeshit for it, and I admit that if you focus exclusively on Bridges and block out everything else I can see the appeal, but for me Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story skewered all these musician movie tropes so thoroughly that they just kind of make me chuckle and roll my eyes now.
Here's my recommendation for Crazy Heart: watch the first half, then quit. I'm dead serious. The first hour or so just has Bad Blake driving around the Southwest, boozing and disrespecting everyone and singing country music and generally being a badass, and it's a good fuckin' time. Then we have to watch him fall in love with a divorced journalist played by Maggie Gyllenhaal (who, by the way, gives a completely nondescript performance and it's a fucking joke that she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress while Inglourious Basterds' Mélanie Laurent wasn't) and sober up and become a better man and ugh. No thanks. Already seen that movie, assholes. We actually have to watch him go to Alcoholics Anonymous, when all we want is to see him get drunk and sing some more country. It's agonizing.
So yeah, the critics missed the boat here. There's two great things in Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges and the country music he sings. Everything else is redundant bullshit. However, the movie failed to get a Best Picture nomination even in the expanded ten-film field, so it seems like I'm not the only one who noticed.
2 Stars out of 5