Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore
Do not be mistaken. Crazy, Stupid, Love is not a romantic comedy that you might expect based on the trailers and TV commercials. It is in fact a dramedy, because it contains many levels of drama, but with a lighter tone and the occasional silly moment for comedic relief. With a star-studded cast from young to middle-age, this intertwined love story is suitable for all ages, and that was one of the intentions for the movie.
Cal (Carell) finds himself in a position that no one wants to be in. His wife, Emily (Moore) admitted to cheating on him and therefore his marriage is currently in shambles, he moves out of his house away from his children, and he hasn’t been on a date since he fell in love with his high school sweetheart. Obviously rusty at the dating game, Jacob (Gosling) swoops in and tries to restore his man-hood by teaching him the tricks to picking up chicks. This part of the film felt a lot like the Will Smith, Kevin James interaction in Hitch.
The film displays three generations of couples: You have Cal and Emily’s 13-year-old son, Robbie pursuing his baby-sitter Jessica, then Jacob trying to win the heart of Hannah (Stone), and finally Cal and Emily going through rock bottom in their marriage. Because of this, I guess you could say that this movie is suitable for all ages, even though I wasn’t too fond of the Robbie-Jessica story-line.
The strength of the film lies within Ryan Gosling’s performance as Jacob. While Steve Carell owns most of the screen-time during the course of the film, Gosling’s character is the one that goes through the most change from a womanizer to a responsible young adult, ready to commit to a relationship. Also, Gosling shows off his comedic chops and his chemistry alongside Carell was very enjoyable.
While Crazy, Stupid, Love is a delightful film about love and faith, there were a few hiccups that prevented it from being a top-notch dramedy. First off, I couldn’t bring myself to like Robbie’s character. This shaggy-haired, teenager was the voice of reason throughout, and there are a few things that I hate more in a film than when you have a know-it-all kid reciting all the morals of the story. The scene towards the end of the film when Robbie gives a speech at graduation was like nails on a chalkboard.
Also, for a film with some witty and intelligent writing, I expected to avoid the typical cliches of any other dramedy or romantic comedy. The film tried to poke fun at these cliches with their self-knowing comments like when Carell mumbles how cliche it is for rain to start pouring after a heart-breaking scene. While I understand what the writers were trying to do, I felt it fell flat and put a bulls-eye on their attempt to remain smart while not being smart enough to avoid these cliches.
But aside from these minor complaints, I did enjoy Crazy, Stupid, Love a lot. It had a very pleasant blend of drama, comedy, romance, and real-life characters that you could relate to. Even though the film was fifteen minutes too long, if you have those attributes working for a film, it can’t go too wrong.