Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

All Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) wants is dessert. All his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), wants is a divorce. In the face of his wife’s betrayal, Cal relocates to a swanky bar, one which he had never thought to visit before. Having watched Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) leave with a different girl every night, Cal inadvertently finds himself playing padawan to Jacob’s infallible charm. From under this tailored wing, Cal begins to rediscover his manhood, beginning a spate of one night stands with nutso teacher Kate (Marisa Tomei). Back at the bar, meanwhile, Jacob has betrayed his inner chauvinist by falling for Hannah (Emma Stone), a perky accountant who unexpectedly resists his tried and tested routine.

There is a sequence, approximately two thirds into Crazy, Stupid, Love, which teases the movie that could have been. Perhaps ironically the perfect mix of cute and sexy, this scene is a veritable feast of charm, quirk and confidence that culminates memorably in a homage to Dirty Dancing‘s famous lift. As Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone lie in bed, having failed entirely at hot sex (come on, it’s in the trailer!), the film verges tantalisingly on greatness, what came before lapping jealously out of sight – out of mind. It doesn’t last.

Tonally, it’s all over the place. Joyless to begin with, Crazy, Stupid, Love flits from serious drama to laughable farce by way a slightly dubious sermon in masculinity, peaking prematurely with the above sequence, some twenty minutes before the actual conclusion, before breaking glass for the emergency neat bow. It is a meandering direction that makes you feel every second of the film’s 118 minute running time, spreading the story over a slew of cross-generational storylines that struggle – discordantly – for the dwindling spot-light.

Steve Carell and Julianne Moore are heartfelt, honest and deeply engaging, their damaged relationship pushing for a respectability not usually found in the ensemble romantic comedy. Gosling and Stone, meanwhile, pretty much sit the first hour out, coming together in a decidedly cliché attempt at parody, effectively lampooning the Hollywood romance embodied by Gosling’s smooth criminal. Each romance borders on exclusivity, however, undermining the other in what amounts to a series of uneven episodes – conflicting in tone, and grating in gears. With both threads vying for your heart (and – refreshingly – brain), straddling the rom-com hyphenated divide with a definite unease, precisely what the film does not need is another, twee teenage crush, as Cal’s son falls for his babysitter, who is in turn holding a torch of her own for Cal.

Culminating in a scene in which both Jonah Bobo and Steve Carell address the eighth grade with two conflicting, but equally saccharine, lectures on love, it is almost impossible to recall the promise and verve with which Crazy, Stupid, Love started out. Having accidentally threatening to turn the oh-so trite premise on its head, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa don’t stop until the film has been relentlessly course-corrected in time for the contractual happily ever after. Seriously, some of these contrivances need to be seen to be believed. The film’s fleeting misogyny aside – though if you didn’t feel objectified then who am I to complain – it is a movie that hits gold entirely by accident and completely without realising, swiftly falling back on convention for fear that anyone might have noticed.

Uneven, about 20 minutes too long and unfortunately short on Stone, Crazy Stupid Love squanders its promise in a misguided bid to finger all of the pies. With each subplot proving surprisingly satisfying on their own, together they simply clump unflatteringly as the script jumps from measured pathos to perky banter with even less finesse than Cal’s own transition from dad to lad.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

  1. Pingback: September 2011 – What, there are no good sharks? « popcornaddict

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