Krystal is what happens when a terrible script is made into a film. Unsure of exactly what it’s supposed to be, Krystal struggles in so many ways with coherency that it often feels like a bunch of loose plot threads tied together in a sloppy bow. Directed by William H. Macy, with a screenplay by Will Aldis, it’s easy to see that the movie is meant to be funny, but it only winds up being a waste of the cast’s talent and the audience’s time. There’s a potential that is completely lost and Krystal’s main issues essentially lie in its lack of character depth, its poor attempts at humor, and the overall execution of its story.
Taylor Ogburn (Nick Robinson), at the age of 18, suffers from a heart condition which emerged after seeing what he believed to be Satan in one of his father’s, Wyatt (William H. Macy), porn magazines. Told to get over it, Taylor is plagued by images of “Satan” and his heartbeat elevates in instances of high stress and other unknown reasons to the point of passing out. While lounging on the beach, he sees Krystal (Rosario Dawson)–a former stripper, drug addict, and alcoholic–for the first time in what’s supposed to be the quintessential meet-cute, love-at-first-sight moment. Taylor immediately becomes smitten and joins her AA group to get to know her. What he doesn’t realize is that Krystal has an entire life–including a teenage son, Bobby (Jacob Latimore), and an ex, Willie (T.I.), who’s willing to do anything to get her back–that Taylor may just not be ready to handle no matter how much of an “old soul” he pretends to be.
What Krystal completely lacks is heart, charisma, and anything resembling a cohesive plot. It’s filled with a lot of stereotypes of black people and, though it’s completely ridiculous, Nick Robinson’s Taylor comes across as the white savior type despite his youth and naivete. He’s ready and willing to be in love, but common sense isn’t exactly his strong suit. As such, Taylor gets himself into various situations that are completely out of his depth. Everything seems to happen to him or around him, but there isn’t any natural buildup toward the film’s finale. Characters exist and share scenes with Taylor, but there are never any meaningful or heartfelt interactions between him and his family–which also includes his mother, Poppy (Felicity Huffman), and brother, Campbell (Grant Gustin). They’re present for when Taylor needs to speak to them about whatever might be happening in his life, but every time he does, the scenes never feel fully formed. The Ogburns are supposed to be representative of what a zany southern family can be like, but almost all of their interactions are played for humor and their relationships and the scenes meant to expand on their dynamic are used for exposition and largely lack any substance.
Taylor struggles to… find himself? He doesn’t exactly fit in with his family, who he constantly refers to as geniuses, but the film isn’t really the coming-of-age story it likes to pretend it is. He finds what he thinks is true love and not long after he also finds a new persona when trying to act like the cool and collected Bo (Rick Fox), a speaker at the AA meetings. Taylor struggles to be taken seriously, something that’s really hard to do given the fact that most of Taylor’s words sound like bad and unintelligible poetry. Robinson tries really hard to depict Taylor’s love-struck behavior and need to have Krystal fall in love with him, but the dialogue is nowhere near good nor does his performance elevate the role. Ridiculous is the fact that Rosario Dawson’s character would even entertain the thought of being with Taylor for even a moment, but that’s an entirely different story. And let’s not talk discuss the exaggerated southern accents because they’re in a league of their own.
Krystal isn’t even comically bad, it’s just flat out bad. It can barely hold itself together and is full of nonsensical plotlines and events that transpire just for the sake of taking up screen time. It never goes anywhere, nor does it bother to really try. The film is messy and expects us to laugh at its sense of humor–which makes use of physical conditions and stereotypes as a way to incite laughter–but all it provides is an abundance of cringe-worthy dialogue that manages to make even the film’s best actors look silly. Krystal is unfortunately a half-assed attempt at a dramedy and lacks the self-awareness to acknowledge its own absurdity.