Film Review: Crash Pad

Unabashedly silly take on an Odd Couple premise delivers some very funny lines.
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When Crash Pad opens, our hopeless dreamer of a hero, Stensland (Domhnall Gleeson), has just learned the older woman with whom he’s been sleeping is married. Stensland is horrified; he had thought/convinced himself their liaison had all the markings of true love. To wit: Just the other night, Morgan (Christina Applegate) held his hand in a cab. “That’s not the action of a woman looking for sex behind her hubby’s back,” Stensland cries, indignant. “That’s a woman looking for Dr. Zhivago!”

After Morgan kicks him out of her bed, Stensland falls into a pit of despair, his grungy apartment outfitted in furniture hemorrhaging stuffing. He spends his days getting high while taking a self-imposed leave of absence from his job that soon becomes permanent. His roommate moves out and Stensland is left alone with only his VHS copies of “Dawson’s Creek” for companionship.

But his indulgent solitude does not last long. Morgan’s husband, Grady (he of the excellent delivery, Thomas Haden Church), shows up uninvited with an unloaded gun in hand to scare the poop and other bodily fluids out of him. But the squalor in which Stensland lives appeals to Grady, and instead of assaulting the man who cuckolded him, Grady moves in, offering to pay Stensland’s rent for the privilege. So begins a series of misadventures in which Grady relives his premarital glory days while forcing the “prematurely middle-aged” Stensland to be his reluctant wingman.

Crash Pad is the first feature written by Jeremy Catalino, but hopefully it won’t be his last comedy. The movie plays with its stereotypes in a manner that is sometimes gleefully silly and sometimes sharply clever. Once every few minutes you’re “Ha!”-ing aloud. Some of the dialogue is so dense you have to wonder just how much preparatory work the actors were moved to complete before filming began, and if no breathing coaches were involved. Gleeson in particular is charged with landing some humdinger lines. But everyone in this A-list cast is such a pro—you know the material must have been appealing if Haden Church, Gleeson and comedy golden girl Applegate all agreed to participate. That, or the filmmakers all have very good agents—the almost showy (OK, sometimes showy) writing never upstages the players.

Director Kevin Tent is an Oscar-nominated editor who’s worked on a number of films from Alexander Payne, who is an exec producer on Crash Pad. (Hence the connection with Haden Church, who starred in Payne’s Sideways.) He has edited such seminal comedies as Election, and such forgettable comedies as Monster-in-Law. Crash Pad is neither a classic nor another reason to smack palm to forehead as you wonder: But why did they make this? The answer is comprehensible enough: Because it’s funny. If there’s nothing surprising in its portrayals of macho men who need to de-swagger, Millennials who need to grow up, and married couples that need to try harder, there’s plenty of incentive to watch what is there again. It’s true that Applegate should have been given considerably more to do, but one can dream of a sophomore Catalino feature in which she has a starring role.

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