||CRAZY/BEAUTIFUL is not your typical teen romance. The film offers a grittier, more realistic take on the subject than most. It manages to be sweetly romantic without pandering to, or insulting, the intelligence of its intended audience. Director John Stockwell uses an unobtrusive, verité style to bring a strong script from debut screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi to the screen. Stockwell began his film career as an actor (perhaps best known for playing the main character's best friend and protector in John Carpenter's CHRISTINE), and that experience is evident in his handling of the cast. The multifaceted Kirsten Dunst (BRING IT ON) plays the troubled Nicole, a rich girl whose self-destructive behavior stems from a traumatic experience in her past. Newcomer Jay Hernandez makes a strong impression as Carlos, a talented, intelligent, straight-laced Latino boy determined to succeed despite the obstacles life has thrown at him. When the two hook up, cultures clash. CRAZY/BEAUTIFUL has a rare freshness and authenticity, providing a different perspective on the family lives of these teens, and allowing the chemistry between the attractive and engaging lead actors to guide the film.