Skip to content

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

September 5, 2011


 written by: Dan Fogelman

produced by: Steve Carell, Vance DeGeneres, Charlie Hartstock, David A. Siegel, & Denise Di Novi

directed by: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
rated PG-13 (for coarse humor, sexual content and language)
runtime: 118 min.
U.S. release date: July 29, 2011
Sometimes just the title of a movie can immediately grab you and pique your curiosity, but one can only hope it will live up to the catchy title. Thankfully, such is the case with “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” a movie that holds its head high amidst the vast sea of R-rated raunch moviegoers are flooded with lately. It embraces PG-13 (while blatantly acknowledging it) and yet still doesn’t hold back by showing us real characters (that are crazy and stupid and in love) who are as relatable as they are flawed and incorrigible (maybe even because of that). In the romantic dramedy genre, it’s refreshing to see a clever story come alive by a perfect cast in a less-is-more approach, but its biggest gift to viewers is a lack of predictability.  

After thirtysomething years of marriage, Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is floored when his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) announces at a restaurant that she wants a divorce. All he wanted to know was what she wanted to eat, but this is a gut-punch he didn’t see coming. Maybe that’s the problem. On the way home, Cal sits in the passenger seat, stunned into silence as Emily rattles off how she slept with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon), a persistent co-worker of hers. 
Defeated, Cal relents and tells Emily he’ll move out immediately and sign anything she wants. He spends the next couple nights in foreign territory: a swanky local bar where he can be found parked at the bar in his 407s, slurping his cranberry cocktail from a straw. Cal’s drunken ranting about his marital woes catch the attention of resident gigolo Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), who decides to take him under his wing and help him recapture his manhood. In a series of hilarious scenes, Cal gets a fashion overhaul, learns how not to talk to women about his kids, and even takes a “sexy and cute” schoolteacher (Marisa Tomei) home. 
While this change in stride is rejuvenating, it’s nothing more than a distraction from the life (and wife) that he misses. Cal makes repeated trips to his backyard in the middle of the night, in order to make sure the foliage is well manicured, and has to deal with how his daughter (Joey King) and 13 year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) are dealing with the sudden family dynamic. Complicating matters is Jessica Riley (Analeigh Tipton), the kid’s 17 year-old babysitter, who unbeknownst to him, is crushing hard on Cal yet has to endure countless advances from Robbie, who sees her as his “soulmate”. 

Meanwhile, Jacob is experiencing a crisis all his own as he actually finds himself falling for Hannah (Emma Stone), a girl who had previously turned down his routine advances. Ironically, he seeks advice from Cal, who is struggling to find a way to re-swoon his wife.  Can the charming lothario actually get some life-coaching from the cuckolded (as Cal considers himself) middle-aged straight guy? 

The joy is seeing how all these storylines play out in both hilarious and poignant in a variety of surprising ways. Screenwriter Dan Fogelman (“Cars 2” and “Tangled”) provides the actors and directors with a story that naturally flows, never at all feeling pretentious or succumbing to the current trend of meanness and toilet humor. It’s impressive how the writer navigates all these characters through themes of commitment, infatuation, and confusion, in such a way that never feels crowded or difficult to follow. While the movie is certainly a comedy, it gives us characters that we can believe in as they go through the challenges of marriage, dating, and crushes. Funny, yet quite sobering, this script is one that is an absolute delight to see come together on the big-screen. 
In the hands of directors Glenn Ficcara and John Requa (“I Love You, Phillip Morris”), we’re actually able to connect to these characters instead of just laugh at them. So many other   relationship comedies have the audience simply laughing at specific situations, but rarely does an examination of remorse and realization come across in such an honest and thoughtful way. While a solid script and a capable cast is paramount, what it comes down to in making everything successfully align here (as they do) is the directing. It’s the one comedy that excels at heart to heart interactions and vulnerable situations than relying on any gag or physical comedy.  
Of course, the smart cinematography and lively editing style wouldn’t be worth it if it wasn’t for this wonderful ensemble cast.  All of them react and respond with a knowing balance of comic timing and sensitive precision. Carell is an actor known for his comedic chops, but he’s always come across to me as a guy who could handle some serious subject matter just as well. This role is coming closer to that.  Moore is a great match for Carell. they both convincingly deliver lines that comes across like a couple who’s been through the ups and downs of marriage, and have both simply taken each other for granted and gotten bored with each other. They talk around each other,  are at a loss of words, or they emotionally react (or shut down in Cal’s case) to each other. Regardless of their scenes, I felt a genuineness between Moore and Carell, which comes when actors aren’t playing for laughs. 
Working off each other in mentor/apprentice roles, Carell and Gosling are fantastic together. Sure, Gosling has the dominant role, playing a guy who seemingly has it together and knows all the right moves, but Carell almost underplays some of the scenes, making his defeated attitude and under-his-breath delivery all the more engaging.  Make no mistake though, Gosling plays a great pick-up artist, but his best scenes are with Stone. They are great together, especially when both their defenses are down. We see this during the first time they go back to his place. It’s one of many sequences that don’t play out the way the audience would expect. 
Some of the supporting roles are worth mentioning as well.  Bacon and Tomei have serviceable roles (meaning their characters serve basically one purpose), but they bring a good deal of energy and needed nuance for their roles. Bacon is a smarmy housebreaker and Tomei works the feisty fling, but I liked how both showed needed nuances and emotional expressiveness to their parts. Never drawing attention to themselves, yet doing more than most supporting players have done in the past. 
Special admiration goes to the two older kids in the movie. The character of Ronnie could’ve been a morose teen, lost in love, but at no point do we stop rooting for Jonah Bobo.  He’s persistence draws us to him as does Tipton’s manic vulnerability. She is so transparent as Jessica. We’ve seen babysitters who have a crush on the parent before, but her scenes with Carell had an uncomfortably good balance of awkwardness and sensuality to them. These two actors naturally fill their roles, never making them stereotypical or one-note.  We know where they’re coming from, probably because we’ve all been there before.  
Toward the end, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”, has what comes across as a couple different endings, but I went for them both just the same. There’s a surprising convergence at the end that seems to be a tad on the contrived side, but it’s still quite hilarious. By then, I had already laughed-out-loud more than once and actually had come to the point where I cared for these characters. For once, here is a comedy that has a heart, centered with reality while toying with artificiality and silliness. 

RATING: ****
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Lauri permalink
    September 5, 2011 7:21 pm

    I completely agree with your review, David. I am not a Steve Carrell fan at all, but I really appreciated this “toned-down” performance. I admit to never having seen Ryan Gosling in any movie, not even The Notebook. He took my breath away, and not just by his physical presence. His timing was spot-on… and I think that his role, in the hands of other actors, could have come off as smarmy. Instead he is such a likeable guy, despite the lothario personna. I was completely surprised by the turn of events at the end of the movie… and I loved it!

  2. windi noel permalink
    September 7, 2011 7:13 am

    I do want to see this movie…..


  1. Drive (2011) « Keeping It Reel
  2. The Ides of March (2011) « Keeping It Reel
  3. This Week on DVD & Blu-ray (11-01-11) « Keeping It Reel

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: