The idea behind Dan Fogleman’s Crazy, Stupid, Love seems to recall the lyric from the Joe song that goes, “bottom line, Love don’t make no sense“. In life, somethings you do are crazy, somethings you do are stupid but more so when you do it because you’re in love. Yet his film is less about going after what you really want. It tries (in typical rom-com fashion) to get you to find out who you are before you can start doing those crazy stupid things. Yeah, I guess that’s the best way to start this all off.
Poor Cal Weaver. His wife has just told him that after 25 years of marriage she wants a divorce and further, she’s had an affair with her boss. Weaver (Carell) after a quarter century of what he thought was marital bliss was dropped a major bomb. But after some sulking, like a knight in shinning machismo and Italian loafers, comes the smooth talking Jacob (Gosling) to help him reassemble the pieces. As Cal gains more confidence we see the polar opposite in his ex-wife Emily (Moore). Not really sure the affair was what she wanted, now that they’re apart she’s certain she can’t be without Cal. So the two ping pong back and forth as the story follows not just their relationship but others who are finding love to be a complicated, unfair but possibly satisfying endeavor worth all the crazy stupid efforts.
Carell is his usual downtrodden but likable every-man; in fact Carell’s shtick is that he does dead pan “oh, my life is in shambles” so well, it’s hard for him to do any other character. But to save Carell from his woes comes Gosling like the great white Hitch to rescue the 40 Year Old Virgin. But Dan Fogelman‘s script deviates from what might be expected and the movie finds proves not to be a rehash of trite rom-com fodder. Ryan Gosling does his best to channel Brad Pitt by way of Ocean’s Eleven and helps Carell get his groove back. Gosling is known for being an uber-talented indie actor but I think those days nearly are all behind him. Here he’s able to show why his star has been rising for so long and seems to be able to play any part. Liken him to a post-modern Cary Grant, on screen he’s a delight juggling both sauvness and humor that is destined to make him a landmark leading man for years to come.
Other high points certainly go to Stone as this year we’re getting a double dose of Emma and you won’t hear any complaints from me. She’s know for her major adorably quirky demeanor which has won her many fans. While you get more of it here, she is starting to develop and take more dramatic roles but she’s got a funny bone that’s probably never going to go away. Again, no complaints there.
As this is a rom-com you have your fair share of insanity, hysterically implausible sequences and wildly unhinged characters (thrown in to help fill out the story. But poor Marisa Tomei (read: wildly unhinged character), sure she won an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny but after this and her brief role in Salvation Boulevard I really hope she isn’t getting away from her great dramatic work like The Wrestler and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Maybe that’s what we’ll get in the upcoming The Ides of March.
One note I want to bring up that might be left out of reviews for this film are the younger actors. This must be the year where kid are really lighting up the screen. Super 8’s kids were fantastic in their realism, Attack the Block more or less the same but when Carell’s son (Jonah Bobo) falls hopelessly in love with his baby sitter (Analeigh Tipton) both show themselves more than capable handling both dramatic and comic timing with ease. They really held their own and are sure to impress.
Much of the movie does come off refreshingly delightful, funny and original. But when it falls prey to the trappings of the genre Crazy, Stupid, Love (be it Fogleman’s script or the double dose of direction from Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) is, at times, smart enough to have a laugh at itself. Case in point, in a very self aware moment, Carell notes just how cliche it all is when after an overblown but funny and dramatic parking lot scene leaves him getting rained an almost immediately. But for the attempts to inject new levels of humor like that, the film ends with a scene that is just as typically cliche, preachy and tied up in the form of a highly unoriginal “What have you learned Dorothy?” sequence…it’ll make sense when you see it. Still, the rest of the trip is a very enjoyable ride with The Hangover level of laughs (although the PG-13 rating is sure to make it appeal to a wider audience).
While super heroes are all the rage this Summer it’s good to see a solid comedy thrown in there and Crazy, Stupid, Love delivers the goods. Some hints at originality, some cleverly unexpected humor make this more than a typical rom-com which will win a lot of fans even if the message is tied in a big moral and heartwarming bow. The story gets fragmented as just when you’ve come to like and get used to one character they end up leaving and not showing up for a while. But when everyone shows up at the end, all the wanting is easily forgotten. One thing is for sure, the film shows us that while being “in love” may be a losing battle, it reminds us to keep fighting for what we want no matter what…but try to stop just short of a restraining order. That level of devotion is both crazy and stupid.