6.3/10
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71 user 44 critic

The Crossing Guard (1995)

Trailer
2:04 | Trailer
Freddy Gale is a seedy jeweller who has sworn to kill the drunk driver who killed his little girl.

Director:

Sean Penn

Writer:

Sean Penn
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... Freddy Gale
David Morse ... John Booth
Anjelica Huston ... Mary
Robin Wright ... Jojo
Piper Laurie ... Helen Booth
Richard Bradford ... Stuart Booth
Priscilla Barnes ... Verna
David Baerwald David Baerwald ... Peter
Robbie Robertson ... Roger
John Savage ... Bobby
Kari Wuhrer ... Mia
Jennifer Leigh Warren ... Jennifer
Kellita Smith ... Tanya
Richard C. Sarafian ... Sunny Ventura (as Richard Sarafian)
Bobby Cooper ... Coop
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Storyline

After his daughter died in a hit and run, Freddy Gale has waited six years for John Booth, the man responsible, to be released from prison. On the day of release, Gale visits Booth and announces that he will kill him in one week. Booth uses his time to try and make peace with himself and his entourage, and even finds romance. Gale, whose life is spiralling down because of his obsession towards Booth, will bring himself on the very edge of sanity. At the end of the week, both men will find themselves on a collision course with each other. Written by Anthony

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Some lives cross, others collide.

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

16 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1996 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Crossing Guard See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$832,910
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Miramax See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Editor Jay Cassidy, Sean Penn allowed Jack Nicholson to make editing choices for two weeks without Penn's involvement, trusting Nicholson's eye for filmmaking, being a director himself. See more »

Goofs

Peter's hair position changes when he says the famous line, "Did you get butt-fuc**d in prison?" and after John replies "It only hurts the first time". See more »

Quotes

Freddy Gale: Now you pity me. You pity me. You know, this is funny...
Mary: Whatever you are doing Freddy, stop it.
Freddy Gale: "Whatever you are doing Freddy, stop it". I hope you die. I hope you FUCKING die.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Clyde is Hungry Watchdog - Dr Edward Katz See more »

Connections

Referenced in Being John Malkovich (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Whatta Man
Written by Hurby Luv Bug Azor (as Herby Azor), Cheryl 'Salt' James (as Cherly James) and Dave Crawford
Performed by Salt-N-Pepa (as Salt 'N Pepa)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
the devices of the writer/director vs. the actors
23 January 2007 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Sean Penn can be a great actor, but with the Crossing Guard he displays a hit or miss attitude in the believability of his characters. It starts with a given for a gripping premise: a man torn completely psychologically from himself, Freddy (Jack Nicholson) finds out the man who killed his daughter in a drunk driving accident is released from prison after only six years. And, he'll go and kill him. Why he'll kill him, also a psychological pull, is that he's more so for his ex-wife Mary (Angelica Huston) than he is for himself. It's as much, if not more, about pride than it is about vengeance.

But through this premise, and the divide between self-destructive, drunk Freddy and the guilt-ridden, morose John Booth, Penn paints his characters sometimes into corners even when things become most intriguing. It's appropriate, I suppose, that Penn decided to dedicate the film to Charles Bukowski, as it probably alludes a lot to the moods of the characters in those books. But in putting across moods so much he almost forgets that his actors need believable circumstances to follow. One device, for example, is the whole "you got three days" angle Freddy pulls with John when he first confronts him in his trailer. There's also the sort of romance-in-limbo between John and another woman (Robin Wright Penn).

But what I didn't expect was that the actors almost don't, but ultimately do, rise above the contrivances of the script. There's even a great scene between Nicholson and Huston in a restaurant the night the murder is supposed to take place. Scenes like this, and a tear-ridden phone call from Freddy in a red-tinted room, are powerful and connect with the overall theme of loss in the film. Yet as a director Penn doesn't pull enough with his characters and mood to make it as compelling as it can be. He also relies on some fairly arty camera moves to make it more interesting, when they aren't needed anyway. Nicholson and Morse, meanwhile, are consummate pros who get into their characters completely (and for Nicholson especially it's almost a walk in the park, with his motivation less about the death of his daughter than it is about decay itself). But what is the audience to make of the mediocre decision to have Freddy get pulled over by the cops on his way to kill John, for drunk driving, and then go into a very far-fetched chase from them to catch up to John just so the irony can be placed in? It's not that the actors don't use some devices either at their disposal.

However in the case of the Crossing Guard, no matter how deeply felt Penn is to his material- leading up to a somewhat meaningful ending at the cemetery- he doesn't give it all to actors who demand more from him. I also think having seen this after seeing the Pledge, a brilliant drama with many of the same themes of redemption from another's death and loss from it all, rises so much more above similar ground in this picture. Not bad, but not great either- sort of an unfulfilled, if always watchable, middle-ground. B-


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