Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Written by Dan Fogelman

Love is a fickle thing, that much is known by just about every human on the planet. Whether you have experienced it, or witnessed it, love is indeed crazy and stupid. But the great thing about love is also that it is beautiful, powerful and can be enduring and life changing. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa explored as much in their debut film I Love You Phillip Morris, which introduced Jim Carrey to the love of his cellmate Ewan McGregor. Like that film, Crazy, Stupid, Love. works because it features good performances from a great cast, and at its heart is an interesting and compelling tale.

Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) aren’t high school sweethearts, they are middle school sweethearts. Married at a young age, their suburban life with two kids is falling apart at the behest of Emily, who has become unhappy. To cope, Cal encounters Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who is a smooth, sharp dressed womanizer who teaches Cal all his magical ways, and helps him find his lost manhood. But Cal’s son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who is in love with his babysitter, urges his father to fight for his soulmate. Meanwhile Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone), who is the type of girl who tempts to change his ways.

What is first and foremost the most remarkable thing about the film are the performances, which are good across the board. I would not say that any of the actors here are worthy of recognition on their own, except perhaps the sublime Ryan Gosling, who refuses to deliver a sub par performance in his career. Gosling really works as the suave, smooth, rich playboy who is also mysterious. But part of what makes his character work so well are the performances around him, most notably Steve Carell. Carell is still his silly self that we have gotten to know over his films and his stint on The Office, but he also gives a nice endearing and broken touch to his character. Even those given too little to do (Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Marisa Tomei – this is clearly from the guys perspective) deliver in limited screen time. Even singer Josh Groban appears for a goofy bit part.

Some of the set-up may have been a bit fanatical, and the film is certainly guilty of a few rom-com cliches. Heck, Cal even says so when it begins to rain on him. But at the same time it takes a unique twist on a couple cliches, albeit not earth, or genre, shattering. Carell and Gosling have nice interplay between them and by the end of the film everything we have seen, everything we have understood, culminates in two pretty good scenes, both with enough emotional flair to wrap the film up nicely and bring everything together.

The jokes do not make it the funniest film I’ve ever seen, the direction does not make it the most astounding film I have seen, the story does not make it the most original film I have ever seen, but everything about the film just seemed to work on one level or another, which makes it one of the better experiences I have had this year, even if it is not the best. Ficarra and Requa, like they did with I Love You Phillip Morris, explore the crazy and stupid nature of love, and do it well. This film is nothing more than what you see, but what you see is just solid, solid, solid. It is the best date movie I have seen this year, now just to find that date.


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