Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

****

Love. Lovely loving love. Love is everywhere, apparently. It certainly is in Crazy, Stupid, Love; every character in this film is either falling in love or the object of someone’s affection. Beginning with the dissolving marriage of Cal (Steve Carrell) and Emily (Julianne Moore), Crazy, Stupid, Love grows into a sweet little mélange of stories which, though distinct, never forget that crucial common element of lovely love. And Ryan Gosling’s abs.

Seriously, is there nothing Ryan Gosling can’t do? Handsome, charming and talented to boot, he continues his quest to make the rest of manhood look inadequate in the role of Jacob, a lothario Cal runs into whilst drowning his sorrows. Jacob decides to take Cal under his wing and transform him into a confident ladykiller. As Cal gets a new wardrobe and charm lessons, Jacob steals the film from everyone with a ridiculously confident strut and cheesy chat-up lines. Cal has some success (enter Marisa Tomei’s maneater Kate) but still pines for Emily, whilst Jacob finds himself falling for feisty trainee lawyer Hannah (Emma Stone). As Cal and Jacob find their roles reversing, they come to realize what’s important just in time for the standard grandstanding romantic declaration in the last reel. Crazy, Stupid, Love isn’t as original as it might think, as familiarity hovers just outside each frame, but Dan Fogelman’s script squeezes enough wit in to combat the potential cheesiness of the whole situation (A dejected Cal gets caught in a rainstorm and observes, “What a cliché”). It also helps that there is a game cast involved. Carell’s bulbous features are built for comedy, whilst it’s always good to see the likes of Moore, Tomei and Kevin Bacon (as Emily’s lover) have some fun. Even the trope of the wiser-than-everyone kid (Jonah Bobo, playing Cal and Emily’s son) is funnier than usual, as he’s gifted a romantic storyline too! However, this film belongs to Gosling. Jacob proves that he can do both drama and comedy; we gentlemen should hate him, but he’s so damn smooth he effortlessly charms everyone! Drive on, Mr. Gosling, Drive on!

Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa clearly see the sweet charm in Fogelman’s script, hence they seem to emphasize the comedy, and allow the pathos to fall in place after. Crazy, Stupid, Love is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, but there’s genuine warmth here too. Unlike bawdy sex romps like Friends With Benefits, Crazy, Stupid, Love is built on genuine affection. For all the pratfalls and incidents involving nudity, Crazy, Stupid, Love feels relatively mature for a rom-com. Like Ficarra and Requa’s previous effort I Love You Phillip Morris, Crazy, Stupid, Love is flawed and not quite as revelatory in its plotting as it would hope. It may not be that Crazy, but it certainly isn’t Stupid either. It demands your Love.

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