Review: Crazy Stupid Love
PLOT: Cal (Steve Carell) is a mild-mannered suburbanite whose world is turned upside-down when his wife of twenty-four years, Emily (Julianne Moore) abruptly announces that she's having an affair, and asks for a divorce. Having never been with any women other than his wife, Cal is lost in the singles world, but is taken under the wing of a smooth, can't miss ladies man- Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who teaches him the ins and out of the modern day dating game. Meanwhile, Jacob falls for a young law-student named Hanna (Emma Stone) who's seemingly immune to his charms.
REVIEW: I expected a heck of a lot more out of CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE than I got. The reviews have been pretty ecstatic so far, and the trailers made this look like a smart, sophisticated rom-com, that would both give Steve Carell a chance to flex his acting muscles, and let Gosling lighten up a bit compared to his normally brooding roles.
On that score, CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE is a success, as both Carell and Gosling are wildly appealing here, as is the top-notch supporting cast, including Emma Stone and Julianne Moore. But believe me, the cast is the only place CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE excels, and underneath the A-list pedigree, it's the same clichéd rom-com we've been seeing for years. From the second the film starts, you'll know exactly where it's going, complete with a terribly predictable "out-of-left-field" twist that hits in the last half hour.
Am I the only one that's sick of these rom-coms, where the leads are all entitled upper-class suburbanites with a seemingly endless flow of cash, that still can't get their shit together? How is any of this at all relevant anymore? This is especially true if the relationships are going to be portrayed in the most saccharine, transparently Hollywood way possible. For me, CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE's biggest flaw is that, despite Moore cheating on her loyal husband, and abruptly ending their marriage, we're supposed to want him to win her back. And God forbid he actually starts to enjoy his single life! I hate the fact that suddenly, he's supposed to be apologetic for trying to get on with his life after his wife dumps him. You know that if the shoe was on the other foot, and this was a film about a wife that's dumped and cheated on, we'd never be expected to sympathize with the husband.
Especially sickening is a scene (which to be fair, has also been pointed out by the few critics that aren't fawning over it) where Carell's best friend tells him they can't be friends anymore because his wife tells him so. Really? And it's played for laughs? Ugh.
It's too bad though, as this had a lot of potential. Carell is truly one of the few funny guys that can really inject some pathos into his roles, and his portrayal of the love-sick protagonist is spot on, even if he's let down by the script (although it doesn't compare to the similarly themed DAN IN REAL LIFE or LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE).
Gosling is also terrific, although he takes a back seat for the first hour or so before becoming central towards the end. This is his first real stab at comedy, and he doesn't overdo it, and adopts a cynical style that really works for him. His chemistry with Emma Stone is also really good, although I felt their story was given short shrift. Nevertheless, Stone once again proves that she's on her way to the A-list, although a subplot involving her relationship with a douchy ex (played by Josh Groban of all people) could have been cut back, as he's portrayed as too much of a tool to ever be believable as someone the smart Stone would fall for.
There's also a whole other plot involving Carell's thirteen-year-old son, where he pursues the hot babysitter (Analeigh Tipton)- who, in turn, has the hots for Carell. This plot never gelled, and at two hours, the film is already too long, and this could have been cut- although Tipton is very appealing.
Too bad CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE turned out to be such a by-the-numbers rom-com, as it could have been great counter-program in a summer that's been full of superhero fantasy. It's sad that, in it's own way, CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE is just as much of a fantasy as CAPTAIN AMERICA, or COWBOYS & ALIENS, and not for one second did I feel like I was watching something real. It's not a horrible film, but it's nowhere near as good as it could (or should) have been.
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...