Told from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy, this is the kind of earnest, languid drama that might have worked if it weren’t so terribly obvious and painfully slow. Add to that its close proximity to another Goldie Hawn release (the more marketable concept “Housesitter,” a Universal comedy with Steve Martin) and the film figures to have its box office wires crossed with barely a spark to show for it.
Set at the time of the 1969 moon landing, “CrissCross” deals with a young boy named Chris (David Arnott) who’s lost his moral compass, living with his mother (Hawn) in a run-down Key West hotel.
Mom is a waitress who turns stripper to pay the rent, while dad (Keith Carradine, seen only in a brief cameo) had split three years earlier, having joined a monastery (no kidding) after dropping a load of bombs on a village of innocents in Vietnam.
Almost an hour into the movie the story finally stumbles into a reason for being, as Chris discovers he’s been transporting hidden cocaine from a fisherman to one of the locals.
Reacting to his mother’s defense of her new occupation, he decides to try and score some cash on his own to help her find a more respectable line of work.
Such is the cliche-ridden nature of Scott Sommer’s screenplay, which suffers from an equally ham-handed narration by Arnott–an attractive, natural young performer who unfortunately mumbles his dialogue.
Cinematographer-turned-director Chris Menges, who made his directing debut with the ’88 release “A World Apart,” has a good eye for easy-going trappings of the Key West lifestyle but doesn’t bring any life to the story or characters, both about as flat as the waves lapping up on shore.
Chris’ hero-worship of his pilot dad gets shot down early on, leaving little drama until the drug plot washes up–a rather forced device to resolve the rift with his mom, which is neither compelling nor convincing.
Although it’s understandable that Hawn’s company would seek a showcase with more grit than the silly comedies with which she’s been associated, this project doesn’t display much except off-screen sessions with a physical trainer, evident thanks to the skimpy Key West attire and one striptease number.
The rest of the cast has little to do but work on their impressive tans (’69, after all, predated concern about UV rays), including Arliss Howard and James Gammon, strong character actors stuck with bland, poorly defined roles.
Tech credits are adequate, though Trevor Jones’ maudlin score would probably be better suited to a Hallmark commercial.
Then again, some of those 30-second ads provide more emotional resonance than “CrissCross” scratches out.