- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t’s no secret that adults tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to Hollywood making films for them, but it’s especially obvious during the summer months filled with CG-fueled movies about giant alien robots, superheroes and talking cars. This year has been considerably better, however, with adult-minded treats like “Larry Crowne,” "Midnight in Paris," and now, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” But unlike the Tom Hanks-directed rom-com, which was light and fun but not particularly memorable, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” has real substance to its story and characters that feel like genuine people. You don’t see that very often in today's movies – especially one as well-acted as this.
Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the dream. He married his high school sweetheart, Emily (Julianne Moore), has a great job, and his kids worship him. So when he’s blindsided by the news that his wife cheated on him with one of her co-workers (Kevin Bacon) and wants a divorce, he’s understandably shell-shocked. Dejected and unconfident about jumping back into the dating world, Cal drowns his sorrows with alcohol at a trendy L.A. bar. But when suave ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) overhears Cal’s sob story, he volunteers to take him under his wing and teach him how to reclaim his manhood. But despite being armed with Jacob’s tricks of the trade, Cal still loves Emily and wants her back. Meanwhile, Jacob falls for a cute but tart law student named Hannah (Emma Stone) who has reservations about shacking up with a known womanizer, only to discover that there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Of course, that’s just scratching the surface of the film’s various relationships. There are no fewer than six different love triangles in the movie – including a charming subplot involving Cal’s 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) trying to win the affections of his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who in turn has a crush on Cal – and though you’d expect the main plot to suffer as a result, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa do a great job of juggling all the storylines. It reminded me a lot of “Love Actually” with its multi-generational ensemble and interlocking stories, not to mention its ability to strike a balance between drama and comedy without compromising the integrity of either one.
This is never more apparent than in the relationship between Cal and Emily, who can still share a laugh together, like when Robbie gets in trouble at school for going on an expletive-laced rant about the true meaning of “The Scarlet Letter,” even when they're trying to navigate through the hazy emotions of their separation. After all, they're only human, and by tapping into that humanity, the actors create characters that feel real. There's also not a weak performance in the film. Though Steve Carell has dabbled in drama before, he’s still primarily known as a comic actor, so it’s nice to see him branch out into a more serious role, while Ryan Gosling, who hasn't done any comedy save for the darkly humorous "Lars and the Real Girl," is the funniest person in the entire movie.
Their interactions together are particularly enjoyable, although the rest of the cast isn’t to be overlooked. Julianne Moore is the emotional rock at the center of the story; Emma Stone uses her trademark mix of pluck and goofiness to turn an underwritten role into one of the film's best characters; and newcomers Jonah Bobo and Analeigh Tipton both hold their own against what’s essentially a Hollywood dream team. Even Marisa Tomei gets in on the fun as Cal’s first post-breakup conquest, turning up again later in the film in a very unlikely place. If there’s any flaw at all, it’s that the ending is a little too neat for a movie that's so adamant about treating the material with honesty. But "Crazy, Stupid, Love" is such a refreshing take on the rom-com genre that it's pretty easy to overlook.