Infidelity, mid-life crisis and all around comedic shenanigans drive Crash Pad forward. Starring Christina Applegate and Domhall Gleeson, the film hits the ground running and rarely lets up. And while it might feel like a romantic comedy at the start, Crash Pad’s alternative vision for how it all plays out sets it apart from the usual entries into the genre. When the director of the film calls it an “ass-backward rom-com” you know you’re in for a fun time.
Crash Pad begins with Christina Applegate’s Morgan and Domhall Gleeson’s Stensland in bed together. Stensland learns a horrible secret about the girl he’s fallen for. And Applegate, with a mix of cold-hearted and heartbroken, must weather the storm for the moment until Gleeson makes his exit.
“I’m a 29-year-old, unemployed, diamond in the rough with no foreseeable opportunities for financial or personal success until my death.” – Stensland
From that intro, off we go into a film that mixes typical rom-com elements but plays them out in a pattern that feels fresh. Instead of the selfish guy who learns to love or the awkward girl who rises to find true love and conquer some enormous task, it’s a mess of a love triangle and a story about marriage, relationships, and growing up even when you’re already an adult.
In the hands of the wrong director, Crash Pad could be a spectacular disaster. At the helm here is Kevin Tent who has a long career as an editor in Hollywood (Downsizing, The Descendants). And though Tent only dabbles in directing, he’s an industry veteran and knows exactly what to do with the camera and when. Crash Pad could fit neatly alongside many of Judd Apatow’s movies like 40-Year-Old Virgin or Knocked-Up.
The first five minutes of Crash Pad don’t waste a second setting up exactly what kind of comedy this is. “Bullshit!” is the first line uttered by Stensland in his Irish tambour. Morgan then hammers home the truth. And, a few second laters, is brushing off the breakup, trying his best to feign the uncaring male. Then there’s man-ass and near-full frontal male nudity that will make some viewers cringe with a smile. We don’t see more of Stensland’s package, but we do then see Stensland’s real self, crying because he’s lost a woman he thought he was falling in love with.
“My receptionist was listening in when I threatened you which
means I’d have to kill her as well. And no way I’m breaking in a new receptionist. No, sir.” – Grady
As it turns out, Morgan is married to Grady played by Thomas Haden Church. And in the typical rom-com, it would become a situation of Stensland winning the heart of his true love, and Grady would be the a-hole who loses in the end. But that’s not what happens here, and the subtle deviations from the usual make Crash Pad fun to watch. Also, where Grady and Stensland begin their journey is drastically different from where they end.
Grady and Stensland form a strange bromance that serves as the major thread of the story. Grady is conflicted, trapped in a sort of mid-life crisis. He’s angry that Morgan cheated on him, particularly with the smaller, wimpy-by-comparison Stensland, but he also understands to a degree as he might or might not have cheated on his wife first. And instead of killing Stensland, Grady hatches a kind of revenge plan that both backfires and succeeds.
Crash Pad is a little something old and something new. Gleeson isn’t your typical lead but the way this movie plays out, he’s just the perfect conduit for the audience. And that’s the mix that makes Crash Pad something worth finding on Amazon or iTunes.