Crazy (Blu-ray Review)

Crazy tells the story of Hank Garland whose name may not be recognizable to most people, but the people he played guitar with and the songs he played on are surely are.  Garland was one of the most in-demand session guitar players in Nashville and he played for the likes of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, and Jerry Lee Lewis along with lots of others.  I’m a big fan of a lot of those people and I had never heard of his name before this movie, but I was impressed after finding out that he toured with Elvis from 1957-61 and played guitar on a bunch of his hits: “Hound Dog,” “A Fool Such as I,” “Stuck On You,” “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” “It’s Now Or Never,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Surrender,” “His Latest Flame,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and “Crying In The Chapel.” Other hits he played on were “Oh Pretty Woman,” “What I’d Say,” “Crazy,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” This amazing career was cut short after a car accident that left him in a coma for months which ended up leaving him unable to play as he once did.


These music biopics are fairly common nowadays and they all seem to follow the same formulaic pattern as this one does.  It doesn’t help that this one has to follow the likes of  Walk the Line and Ray both of which were very successful and well done with Academy Awards going to both of them.  That’s not to say that this movie isn’t good but it does pale in comparison when compared to its predecessors. This movie starts out as they all must with the point in their lives when their talent is finally discovered.  Crazy skips the usual beginning that shows what early tragedy set the artist off to greatness and saves it for the last half of the movie where Garland’s life unravels until the abrupt end of the movie.  Garland is portrayed by Waylon Payne (who played Jerry Lee Lewis in the superior Walk the Line and who is named after his godfather Waylon Jennings), who captures the mercurial man’s cockiness and moody temperament well. Payne acquits himself well and handles the musicianship of the role authentically as he really is a musician and has released an album of his own (The Drifter.)  Although I don’t think he looks much like the real Hank Garland, he’s very good in the role and that’s more important.

After opening for Hank Williams Sr., young Garland finds some success and begins to start playing clubs.  He soon meets the woman of his dreams Evelyn (Ali Larter) who seems to see through his usual pick up lines but is still interested in him anyway.  Both of them are damaged goods but for a time things go well as they thought themselves to be kindred spirits.  It isn’t long before their personal demons along with his career begin to dissolve their sanity and the life they shared.  To be fair, while doing research for this review, I read several accounts from Garland’s family and friends that said this movie was completely inaccurate.  If what they say is true, then there is quite a lot of this movie that can only be described as slanderous.  Garland was somewhat involved in this movie but he died while it was in production so it’s hard to say who is right.

In any case, according the movie, Garland went into a downward spiral that he never recovered from and it robbed his ability to play like he once had which is the real tragedy as he was one of the best guitarists in the country according to Elvis.  Fabricated or not, all of the actors do a fine job and there is a good selection of songs that he worked on played throughout the movie.  This movie was a lot better than I thought it would be but it has an abrupt awkward ending and in some cases scenes were removed from the film that could have explained character motivations.  There is a deleted scene that would have cast Evelyn in an even worse light if it had remained but at the same time it would have explained her actions in an earlier scene but then again according to the family it never happened so who’s to say? What is factual is that Hank Garland was one of the best guitar players to have ever lived and rubbed shoulders with some giants of the music industry. He was one of the pioneers that tried to stop the practice of not paying musicians for songwriting contributions because they were already getting paid to play.  He argued that they should not only get some credit for their input but also some money for it.  Garland was an interesting man, who was part inspirational but also a cautionary tale of what can happen when you let your personal demons consume you.


For a small independent movie, I was surprised at the fairly good picture quality of the movie.  The 1080p AVC MPEG-4 video encode is presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and the picture was better than expected.  With a variety of scenes taking place in dark clubs or out in the bright sunshine, the picture consistently looked sharp.  Detail was good in close-up and the DP made sure Ali Larter looked great throughout the movie.  This isn’t reference quality but nonetheless for an independent movie it looks better than it should.


The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD/2.0 sound quality of the movie was acceptable, but there wasn’t much use of surround speakers as it primarily focused on the front speakers.  Dialogue was clear and the various songs peppered throughout the movie all sounded great and it was nice to hear the original versions of the songs and not cover versions.  As a side note there were cameos by singers Katherine McPhee, Sean Colvin, Stacey Earl, Mandy Barnett as well as by the executive producer of the movie Steve Vai who played Hank Williams Sr.

Special Features 

The only special feature on the disc are some deleted scenes. That’s it.

Final Thoughts 

I enjoyed the movie, but not enough to watch it again.  The performances were good and the music was a great bonus, but unlike movies like Walk the Line that were about a star just about everyone knew and cared about, Hank Garland is unknown for the most part as he spent the majority of his career behind the scenes and uncredited for what he did do.  For me personally, knowing that Garland’s family objects to the portrayals and the events that this film focuses on doesn’t help.  Even though there is a message stating that the movie was inspired by actual events, I would have preferred if the writers and director had made more of an effort to capture the man’s life.  Real life has a knack for being more interesting and unbelievable anyway and if they really wanted to honor Garland’s memory, they should have taken the time to do it right.


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3 Responses to “Crazy (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Wow…surprised to hear Vai is in this!

  2. Sean Ferguson

    He’s also the executive producer as well.

  3. Brian White

    Hmm… interesting.