Crash Pad

**

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Crash Pad
"The absurdity of an Irish character trapped within the structures of a US sitcom generates a surreal humour of its own."

It's been 20 years since Married With Children but repeats ensure that there's a never-ending supply of young men whose dream woman is Christina Applegate. Whether or not characters who simply shared her looks would possess the same magnetic power is less certain, but the conceit is sufficient to persuade us that Stensland (Domhnall Gleeson), the youth whom her character Morgan has seduced in this film, would want to devote his life to her. The problem for him is, Morgan doesn't feel the same way. In fact, she was just using him to get back to the husband she suspects of adultery, and now she wants him out of her life.

To call him a youth is perhaps a bit of a stretch. In fact he's in his early thirties, but he still lives like a teenager revelling in the fact that there's no-one around to make him tidy his room. He shares a flat with his best friend but the best friend is leaving. He has a casual job, but failure to turn up due to a broken heart does not go down well with his boss. All that leaves him with is cannabis and old VHS recordings of Dawson's Creek. But life is about to get worse - much worse - when Morgan's vengeful husband Grady (Thomas Haden Church) decides to move into his spare room to rediscover carefree bachelor life.

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There is some effort made here to tease apart the tropes of romantic comedies and slacker movies. Stensland's attempts to win Morgan back by arriving uninvited in her office and making threats are treated with appropriate contempt. Grady's obnoxious attitude to women, revealed as he tries to get himself and his new flatmate laid, is subjected to appropriate critique, as is his macho notion that being in a fight is a healthy part of life. Church's sharp comic timing (aided by great editing) and his ability to keep a poker face keep these episodes entertaining even though the script is weak, and his chemistry with Gleeson helps with the suspension of disbelief. Ultimately, though, the film tries too hard to have it both ways, and never quite pulls off either the satire or the carefree romp.

Despite its problems, it's worth watching for Gleeson, who takes all his character's clich├ęs and contradictions and somehow creates a human being out of them. The rather forced nature of the plot never seems to daunt him and the absurdity of an Irish character trapped within the structures of a US sitcom generates a surreal humour of its own. His warm-heartedness also helps by endearing viewers to him at times when they might otherwise be feeling frustrated by the shallowness of the story.

Shallow it is, as befits the genres concerned, and overall it lacks the charm to overcome this, but Crash Pad is not the disaster it could have been, and where Gleeson is concerned, it contributes to a body of work that really should see him headed for bigger things.

Reviewed on: 25 Oct 2017
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After finding out that his older lover is married, a young man has a second shock when her vengeful husband moves in with him.

Director: Kevin Tent

Writer: Jeremy Catalino

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Christina Applegate, Thomas Haden Church, Nina Dobrev

Year: 2017

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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