Crazy Stupid Love
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra and John Rehqua
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon
Awkwardly titled, Crazy, Stupid, Love is quickly able to overcome its likely audience pandering label, genre conventions and doubt in a strange arrangement of casting. The film is short of crazy, far from stupid and talks more than enough about love.
Whatever one’s expectations of Steve Carrell’s latest comedy are, they are sure to ditch them within the first scene when Cal Weaver (Carrell) underreacts to news of his wife demanding a divorce at date night. A short time later Cal finds himself in a posh youth hang out where he watches in awe of other men scrambling up women while he sips his cranberry and vodka through a straw. His drunken antics soon draw the attention of hotshot Jacob Palmer (Gosling) who offers to turn his sad life around and get women for no other reason than to move the plot along Hitch-style.
Subplots follow other characters, like the Weaver’s babysitter who wants to bag Cal and who also happens to be a relentless crush of the Weaver’s 13-year-old son. There are more, but none worth explaining into too heavily of detail without giving away too much.
Even though Carrell left his 7-year stint on The Office earlier this year, much of Crazy, Stupid, Love plays with situational comedy, perhaps more reminiscent to film comedies like The Kids Are All Right, Little Miss Sunshine and City Island (think big family crises with multiple storylines that lead to misunderstandings and heartbreak). Humor in the beginning is slow rolling, but picks up steam as the plot thickens and dialogue starts kicking in with lines like Jacob scolding Cal to “be better than the Gap.”
For all its humor and satisfying touches of human emotion — grief will always be funny in the right hands but rarely does love feel genuine in a film — much of the script succeeds in the hands of the actors, who are veterans of delivery and experienced in drama. Writer Dan Fogelman certainly deserves credit for crafting, but there are issues in his ability to balance the storylines and bring up his idea of “soul mates” during 8th grade graduation speeches — it makes sense to learn this is the writer of Cars, Cars 2, Tangled and a handful of other Disney family comedies. Gosling (if you don’t mind him embellishing his gimmicky roles) plays his character well without pandering to fans. Moore brings the same naturalness she showed in The Kids Are All Right.
Then there is Carrell, the funny man knows how to become a sad, middle-aged in denial we can both laugh at and pity without feeling like we’ve seen his character already before. Always adding a little layer of freshness to each new role, Carrell can channel the same character elements from Dan in Real Life, Little Miss Sunshine or 40 Year Virgin without being the same character. Though he keeps playing a schmuck, he occasionally picks a movie that isn’t Dinner for Schmucks.
Crazy, Stupid, Love, in fact, is a lot like Carrell’s character in this way, savoring its funny moments but knowing how to find character and heart in the process — even if by the third act the whole “soul mates” and constant search for love becomes a tad tiresome and cheesy, at least no agenda is too heavily forced. Average direction and a forgettable title will hinder it from any serious awards attention, but the film will nonetheless come out, slap you in the face and tell you to “be better than the bullshit romantic comedies being hashed out by studios.” And for that, we have to be grateful.
Catch up on other great Ryan Gosling films at LOVEFiLM such as the ultimate romance film, the Notebook and the ultimate relationship breakdown, Blue Valentine. With of 70,000 titles and counting you’re sure to find something to watch!