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Crazy, Stupid, Love. is one of, if not the best, American romantic
comedies of the past decade. This may come as a shock to some (as it
surely took me aback) but there is no other way to describe it. Going
into an advanced screening of the film earlier this week, I had my
doubts that it would be anything outside of generic. But instead of
tripe, I got one of the most unexpected surprises I have seen all year.
Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have hit a rough patch in their long-time marriage, and Emily inadvertently announces to an entire restaurant that she wants a divorce. Down and depressed, Cal starts drinking away his sorrows at a local bar, attempting to make sense of his predicament with anyone who will listen. Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a professional bachelor, takes notice and makes it his personal mission to help Cal get over his wife, and become a new man in the process.
But this is just the main plot thread of the movie. It also follows Jacob's relationship with the absolutely stunning Hannah (Emma Stone), throws in a bit of curveball with Emily being romanced by David (Kevin Bacon), and even has a bit of a focus on Cal's son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) pining over his older babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). It may sound a little packed with threads and too many characters, but Crazy, Stupid, Love. is able to navigate between each character and couple with ease. It reminded me a lot of Valentine's Day, and how its main goal was to depict how different love is for a sizable amount of couples and singletons. Except it failed miserably at it, and stood out more as an example of every rom-com stereotype you could imagine. Thankfully, Crazy, Stupid, Love. takes the higher road and breathes new life into a stale genre.
While the impeccable cast is more than enough reason why the film succeeds so well in being an atypical film in the genre, it is the crew behind-the-scenes that surprises even more. The film is written by Dan Fogelman, who is best known for a string of Disney films and the atrocious Fred Claus, and is directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who wrote and directed the sadly little seen I Love You Phillip Morris and wrote the now classic Bad Santa. These three would not be the first group on men I would turn to for a film like this, but their relative lack of expertise helps propel the film to the heights it reaches. It takes darkly hilarious turns in certain instances, plays other sequences totally unconventionally, play even more out with a foreboding sense of drama the trailer merely hints at, and trumps more than its share of genre stereotypes. Weaving between the plots lines, they make the film feel unique and different from others, all while giving it an aura of authenticity. While they stumble a bit in the final act with a series of sitcom-like shockers that border on ludicrous, they manage to pull off the rare feat of actually making the audience wonder if these characters will all end up together in the end, or if they will walk their separate ways; something that is truly uncommon for this genre.
Acting wise, the film delivers in spades. Carell gives one of his best performances to date as Cal, moving as swiftly as the script requires between depression and humiliation, and touching and hilarious. The film stretches his dramatic muscle more than most, and allows him to give a performance that does not rely on laughs. The expressions on his face are just devastating in some sequences, and the wonder in other scenes is ridiculously hilarious. It is a performance I hope to see him come back to again, and make even better. Gosling plays against type, and gives an absolutely hysterical performance. He shines brightly in every scene, nailing every line and mannerism, while making this scumbag of a lothario become someone to really care about. He exudes chemistry and helps make everyone else's performance better. Moore and Stone also give great performances, easily balancing the humour with the drama. They are not given nearly as much to do as the guys, but hold their own on- screen.
The supporting cast does even better. Bobo is phenomenal in his role, conveying an innocence and naivety that is more mature than I thought possible. He acts like more of an adult than some of the older cast does in many instances, and gives the performance a well-rounded other young actors would be incapable of. Tipton is not nearly as good, but plays the role of a confused teenager a little better than you would imagine. Bacon does great in a small turn as does Liza Lapira as Hannah's best friend. But it is Marisa Tomei who steals the show from everyone, playing one of Cal's conquests. She is dementedly unhinged and ridiculously over-the-top, but never falters. Her performance may be one-note, but it is easily the most memorable thing about the film.
If I hold anything against the film (other than the final act stumble and the oh-so convenient way one particular scene comes together), it is that it ended. I know I have harped on how unlike other typical romantic comedies Crazy, Stupid, Love. is, but there is really no other way I can rave about it. I easily could have spent more time with these characters, and pined to find out what happened to each of them after the final fade out. The incredibly unlikely pair of Ficarra and Requa has crafted a truly wonderful and hilarious film that is nothing like what you could have expected watching the trailer. It is bittersweet, and easily one of my favourite movies of the summer. And this is coming from someone who loathes almost every single romantic comedy ever conceived.
My initial reaction is that this film is the best romantic comedy that I've seen in years. The genre has been pretty devoid of quality lately. So, I don't know if that plays a part or not and I really don't care at this point. I enjoyed everything about this movie. It has tremendous heart and charisma and it's so very easy to get caught up in to the lives of these characters. A certain degree of patience is required while viewing because some secondary characters that feel unnecessary to the story are worth getting to know. Steve Carell's character is the one everyone empathizes with and when the movie shifts away from the "A" story you wonder why and start to think that the "B" story is going to be muddled or cliché or one to endure. Well, they're not and everything comes together in a wonderful fashion. The entire cast here is perfection. The overall message may be one to debate but it doesn't matter because the ride and this film are just so smart and so well done.
You know usually I'm not into romantic comedies, as I find that most of them fall short & are extremely cheesy. I really liked this movie though. One of the great things about it, is the acting is great. Everyone plays their part perfectly and you actually kind of feel for them in their individual situations. Usually when I think of Steve Carell, I think of a jokester. He was great in his serious scenes though, very believable. And Ryan Gosling, Oh my goodness, Ryan Gosling. He has always been one of my favorite actors. He plays a ladies man in this movie, trying to get Carell back on his feet after splitting with his wife. The two of them have great chemistry together and provide plenty of laughs, along with touching moments. I just saw this movie yesterday and I already want to see it again. That almost never happens that I want to see a movie again right away. Very cute. This movie has a little bit of everything and I think that most people would enjoy it. 9/10!
It was roughly two-thirds of the way into Crazy, Stupid, Love when I
realized how invested the audience in my theater had become. The key
scene involved a mom cleaning her daughter's room, a seemingly mundane
moment that produced gasps and cries of "Oh no!" even before the
character makes a very revealing discovery. It's a scene that, much
like the rest of Crazy, Stupid, Love, a heartwarming and, at times,
painfully honest depiction of three couples at various stages in each
of their relationships, unfolds not with predictability so much as
inevitability. Unlike your average, generic romantic-comedy, this movie
focuses less on the end, on who will end up with whom, than on the
special and often surprising connections that are made along the way.
What's more, it achieves the remarkable and all-too-rare feat of
actually moving the audience to care about the central characters, to
cheer when they come out on top and sympathize when they don't.
Using a witty, compassionate and ever-so-slightly subversive script from Dan Fogelman, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who are best known for writing the pitch-black comedy/satire Bad Santa and only have one other directorial effort under their belts (last year's I Love You, Philip Morris), guide the production along with subtle ease. They strike an ideal balance between humor and drama, allowing the overall tone to develop organically. Laughs come mostly in chuckles at the cleverness of a line or its delivery and are never awkwardly forced in to lighten up a scene, while the emotions feel genuine without becoming manipulative. Most of all, their restrained approach allows the actors to breathe and to fully embody the characters they've been given.
Speaking of which, has there ever been a more likable group of people assembled for a film, much less a romantic comedy? The cast gels remarkably well, and at no point is anyone singled out as a villain; even when a character threatens to become unlikable, the actor portrays him or her with such keen understanding that it ultimately becomes hard, if not impossible, to not root for each and every one of them. Whenever the film tiptoes the line toward schmaltzy, they pull it back, making every line and emotion feel utterly real. As the unquestionable lead of the film, Steve Carell displays a tenderness and dramatic depth he'd only hinted at in previous works like the unexpectedly moving The 40-Year-Old Virgin and occasional episodes of The Office, while Ryan Gosling, all immaculate grooming, sly grins and twinkling eyes, is perfectly cast as his foil, Jacob, a suave ladies' man who's really using all that money and swagger to disguise the emptiness he feels inside. Julianne Moore and Emma Stone are both lovely as Emily and Hannah, respectively, radiating a down-to-earth presence and relatability that many other Hollywood actresses seem to lack. Also worth noting are Analeigh Tipton and Jonah Bobo, who form Crazy, Stupid, Love's youngest romantic pairing and have been all but ignored by the movie's publicity campaigns despite their obvious talents.
What truly sets Crazy, Stupid, Love apart from other modern-day romantic comedies, aside from the perceptive writing and direction and a dream cast, is that it strives to be meaningful, rather than just mindless, predictable fluff. Though the movie employs its share of clichés (precocious kid, guy falls for the one girl who initially rejected his advances, etc.) , it's often done with a knowing wink, most obviously when, after an altercation with Emily, his ex, and rain begins to pour down on him, Carell's despondent Cal mutters, "What a cliché." It shows that love is messy, irrational, sweet and universal, filled with regrets and tears as well as hope and joy. It celebrates movies like Say Anything or Jerry Maguire where sentimental wasn't a bad word and love meant more than sex, diamond earrings and expensive, candlelit dinners, where those small, precious moments of quiet intimacy a shared look, a simple but honest conversation, a laugh, a smile, buying a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone, a spontaneous phone call speak as loudly as the grandest, most dramatic, craziest gestures.
In short, Crazy, Stupid, Love does what the best romantic comedies do: it gives us a glimpse into the raw, human moments that collectively build to bring two people together or, at times, tear them apart; we fall in love with them just as they fall in or, out of love with each other. It's the perfect date movie, and so much more. To all the other ones, the mediocre, cornball, lazy, offensive rom-coms and chick-flicks out there, Ryan Gosling has a message for you: be better than The Gap. Be better than The Gap.
Let me start off my review of this film by saying that I hate Steve
Carrell. Watching him on "The Office" for all those years was painful,
because his character, and it seemed his acting style was unbelievably
stupid and bland. While he has occasionally been a decent funnyman, I
hadn't seen him in a role where he was remotely interesting and
Yesterday, I was at the movies, pretty much the whole day, and decided to check out "Crazy Stupid Love", because it had decent critical and audience reactions, better than I expected for a romantic comedy, and it had some of my favorite people in it, including Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. And, to say the least, I was caught by surprise.
One of the reasons for this, is because "Crazy Stupid Love" works as a romantic comedy and a drama. Most romantic comedies, I find, are predictable, stale, and essentially one carbon copy after another, of the same exact story, played out in a slightly altered way. You probably won't guess where "Crazy Stupid Love" is going. While the ending itself is a lot like I predicted it, there's a big plot twist that presents itself in the climax that I really didn't see coming. And that's reason enough to see this movie.
However, there are many (better) reasons. One of the big reasons is that it avoids making any of its characters caricatures. Each character is real, and flawed, screwed up and deals with his or her problems in a very grounded and grown-up way.
It revolves around Cal (Carell), a man who has been married to Emily (Moore) for 25 years, and is rocked by the revelation that she wants a divorce, after sleeping with a co-worker (Kevin Bacon). Cal begins hanging out at a chic pickup bar, where he meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a lothario who takes a different woman home every night. He picks up on Cal's depression, and helps him turn into something of a womanizer. Meanwhile, Cal's floppy-haired thirteen-year-old son Robbie has a crush on his older babysitter, who has a little crush of her own. Also, Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone), a young lawyer who has heard every pickup line, and therefore, has a quite jaded outlook on love.
And it is the first film or TV show to portray Steve Carrell as a human being. He can act! Who knew? I actually liked him in this role, because I felt that he wasn't Michael Scott, or that guy from "Get Smart", or "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", but an average guy whose life didn't turn out as he had hoped. I bought him in this role. He more than keeps up with the rest of the film's stellar cast.
Another revelation here is Ryan Gosling. I've mostly seen him in depressing dramatic roles ("Blue Valentine", "The Notebook"), while here, he proves himself to be a cunning comedian. He has spectacular comedic timing, and clearly has a lot of fun here with the other actors. He seems to be the superficial funnyman at first, and, like the rest of the cast in this terrific film, opens up, and surprises the audience.
While Julianne Moore is always great, her character and Carrell's character mesh in a way that makes you believe that their marriage lasted 20+ years. Emma Stone is on fire right now, doing a great role in "The Help", she shines just as much here, if not more. Her character is instantly lovable, and I can't wait to see what she does next.
This film also features Marisa Tomei, who gives a fierce, and very funny performance as a recovering alcoholic schoolteacher who dates Cal for awhile after his divorce. Kevin Bacon also made me laugh, as Emily's co- worker, who was her post-divorce rebound. While these two have brief roles, they are very funny and make the most of what they are given.
What makes this film memorable for me, is that it is realistic. It doesn't paint love out to be this magical thing that will automatically make anyone happy. It knows that love doesn't always work out, and occasionally ends in heartbreak and/or violence. And while it's somewhat a cautionary tale, it ends hopefully and overall, kind of happily. It made me cry a little, and it made me laugh a lot. And while it could have been a bit longer, and given its characters some more room to grow, it was a satisfying overall package that I would recommend to someone who's trying to escape the summer of superhero flicks and sequels.
I saw this expecting an amusing, albeit predictable, movie. Boy was I
Steve Carell plays a man, Cal, blindsided by his wife's sudden request for a divorce. While wallowing in self pity at the local bar, Jacob (Ryan Gossling) decides to turn him into a project, and introduce him to the wonderful world of womanizing.....But you've seen that from the previews right? What comes next is a great look at love, from first crushes to long term marriage.
This movie is the perfect blend of funny and sweet (the entire theatre was laughing throughout). Great performances from the whole cast, including a surprisingly refreshing change for Steve Carell. The writing was perfect, the pacing was great.... A perfect date movie! Not overly sappy and not typical "chick flick" drivel.
Greetings again from the darkness. From the opening scene it is clear
we aren't in for a typically lame rom-com with caricatures instead of
characters and punchlines instead of feelings. Instead, this one is all
about the characters and their feelings ... realistic feelings of pain,
anger, hope and frustration. Now don't misunderstand. It doesn't go too
deep and there is still plenty of humor in the moments.
Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) are sharing one of their many restaurant moments over the course of their long, steady marriage. Only this time, something spoils the comfort zone. Emily says she wants a divorce and later tells Cal that she had an affair with a co-worker (Kevin Bacon). What follows is as close to real life reactions as we could ever hope for in a rom-com. Cal is hurt. The kids are angry. Emily is confused. Their friends take sides.
The intertwining story lines and characters are both sad and funny. We see how people react when they are attracted to others ... or not. We see how people react when they wonder if their decision was rash. We see how basically nice people try to do the right thing for themselves and others, but still mess it up sometimes.
After moving out, Cal heads to a local upscale lounge that seems to be stocked with gorgeous women and only a handful of men ... every night. In real life, the line of men waiting to enter would be wrapped around the block. Still, one of the regulars is Jacob, played by Ryan Gosling. He is a thing of beauty to look at it and always quick with just the right line. His science is making women believe he cares about nothing but them. Cal is discouraged by Jacob's incredible success rate. Jacob notices Cal's negative vibe and agrees to train him. But first, the makeover ... wardrobe, haircut and conversation skills.
The polar opposite effect of what you might expect from Hollywood - these nice people begin to question their direction. Cal longs for Emily. Emily still thinks about Cal, but dates her co-worker. The son (Jonah Bobo) has a crush on the older baby-sitter, who has a crush of her own. Even Jacob falls hard for new attorney Hannah (Emma Stone) who has just walked out on her wet rag boyfriend (Josh Groban) who offered her a job, rather than a ring. Oh what a tangled web we weave. And that's just the stuff I can tell you! Cal's first conquest utilizing his newly learned skills is a teacher played with full energy by the terrific Marisa Tomei. She only has a couple of scenes, but as usual, Ms. Tomei makes the most of her screen time. The baby sitter is played well by Analeigh Tipton, but it's interesting to note (in real life) she is 3 days younger than law school grad Hannah (Stone).
All of the actors are top notch here. Steve Carell continues to get better ... this is a superior movie to Date Night (with Tina Fey). Julianne Moore is solid, though her character is mostly mopey. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both outstanding. Gosling is none for mostly offbeat, dark independent films but shows again how easily he slides back into sex symbol. Ms. Stone is headed for super-stardom. She was really good in Easy A and has a star-making turn in the upcoming film The Help. After that, it's on to the new Spider-Man for her.
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are the co-directors and were responsible for the much less mainstream I Love You Phillip Morris, with Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. Surprisingly the film was written by Dan Fogelman, who is known for his script writing on the animated Cars movies.
No question women will enjoy the film, but the surprise is, many men will relate to what's going on with the Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling characters. There is enough humor to keep everyone happy and enough strong writing to say this is a very good movie.
I will admit from opening bell, that I do enjoy sappy love movies. It was a movie that made you laugh,cry,wonder and cover your eyes. Steve keeps true to his on screen character and his own real life strength but never forgetting to mumble some sort of funny line even in his most "sappy-est" of moments. I give this movie two thumbs up for its twist at the end and keeping it out of viewers sights so well! I do however wish that they would have developed a little more back story with Ryan's character but still, a movie to be enjoyed by all. Emma delivers some nice side humor along with her friend in the movie as well! I believe Steve may have surpassed expectations of his ability to play that main love role and still maintain his "funny guy" image.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's "I Love You Philip Morris" but it must have been terribly frustrating for them, having to wait 2 years for the release and then, not finding an audience in sufficient numbers, not even with Jim Carrey. "Crazy Stupid Love" seems like a totally understanding attempt to go main stream and get the kind of box office response that will allow them to go on. I think Ficarra and Requa are two enormous talents - remember their script for "Bad Santa? - the market needs made them do this silly, complacent, undercooked comedy. Something so far away from what they've done before that I hope we haven't lost them forever. I didn't believe for a minute that Julianne Moore and Steve Carrell were a couple. I love Ryan Gosling but didn't believe for a minute he will dedicate himself to the Carrell character. And Carrell's outburst at his son's graduation seems a monumental miscalculation. What's great about stealing your own son's thunder. I don't get Carrell, I must confess. I can't wait for him to play a serial killer. That will get him an Oscar nomination. To make things even more puzzling, Kevin Bacon plays a joke of a part and he's photographed without any regard. I'm puzzled and a little bit annoyed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film reminded me a lot of Little Miss Sunshine, a "dysfunctional
family" comedy I also hated. Things that are actually way creepy and/or
disturbing are played for laughs, for example:
- a 13-year-old boy stalking and harrasing his 17-year-old babysitter. He is relentless: tells her upfront that he masturbates while thinking about her, embarrasses her with public declarations, texts her nonstop, cycles to her house in the middle of the night to leave a bundle of flowers at her door (long after she's begged him to stop)... If he's old enough to feel an attraction for someone, then he's old enough to understand the concept of backing off when it is made clear that the attraction is not mutual (not just that-- the girl tells him repeatedly that he makes her feel "uncomfortable"-- ignoring someone's feelings is a trademark mainly of guys who veer on, or actually are, abusive
- a 17-year-old girl obsessing over a 44-year-old dad (Carrell), to the extent that she overtly disrespects his wife (Moore), who employs her as a babysitter. Her obsession reaches new lows when she snaps naked pictures of herself with the intent of seducing Carrell. There was no logic to why this character would cheapen herself so absurdly just to win the affections of a nice, but by no means charming or exceptional, family man. Not to mention, if she hates Moore for breaking up the marriage, why is she so keen to further sabotage it by throwing herself at Carrell?
- a 44-year-old dad controlling his 27-year-old daughter's love life, to the point that he disowns her for having a boyfriend whose past sexual behaviour he disapproves of, even though he himself has recently indulged in that exact type of behaviour. What is it with male characters in films being so patronising and protective of female characters? Are women in audience meant to find this manly and flattering? Is this the 1950s, where sexual hypocrisy reigns supreme? So it seems in the film.
- a 40-something woman (Tomei) who goes to bars on her own to get laid is totally upset when a random dude she goes home with (Carrell) doesn't ever call her. Really? Are we meant to believe the sex was that good? Why must the film depict an older woman seeking sex with a stranger be so pathetically? Oh, I know-- because only a pathetic woman would still be single at that age and go to bars seeking no-strings-attached sex. Again-- are we stuck in Pleasantville or what?
Other old-fashioned clichés forced upon the viewer include having an indiscriminate playboy (Gosling) fall for a near-virginal girl (Stone), whose purity of heart and earnest innocence no doubt compel him to abandon his reckless, emotionally stunted, promiscuous ways. To add insult to injury, the near-virginal girl initially fawns over a douchebag in a suit (i.e. the financially secure but boring guy), and is heartbroken when he doesn't propose (girls just always want a ring on their finger, don't ya know).
Amidst these pathetic story lines (compounded by some really pathetic dialogue), the only saving grace were a few well-timed and refreshingly funny jokes, plus Gosling's barely-concealed smirk for having carte blanche to do absolutely no real acting whatsoever. He merely prances around in flashy suits and flaunts his pecs.
My final quip: for a film about sexual conquests and awakenings, where was the chemistry between any of the characters, the steamy innuendos, the sensual vibes, or the actual sex? I would've killed for random scenes between Gosling and any of the two dozen women he picks up throughout the film-- or between him and Stone's quirky friend (also the token ethnic minority, who conveniently disappears the minute Stone and Gosling sink into a trite state of happily-ever-after-ness).
Or how about a scene with Moore and Bacon, who were far cuter together than Moore and Carrell? There's just not even anything in this film that could be considered a payoff. In this sense, it really reminded me of that most disingenuous of romcoms that also has "love" in the title but completely denigrates the concept-- yes, the perplexingly much-loved turd, Love Actually. Well, Crazy, Stupid Love has joined the ranks, congrats!
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