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'Crazy Stupid Love' Review: All Star Cast Headlined By Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling Shines

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All star cast shines in multigenerational ode to Crazy Stupid Love

Crazy Stupid Love is an excellently acted, solid entry in a dying genre. At this point, the dirge of assembly line romantic comedies has given way to more clever entries that successfully fuse several elements (see Bridesmaids), but there is still something to be said of a film that works the Crazy Stupid Loveformula well. The film is so charming and capably made that it’s ultimately hard to resist, flaws and all.

While on the drive home from a night out, Cal’s (Steve Carell) unhappy wife Emily (Julianne Moore) drops a major bombshell. She confesses that she’s been unfaithful in the marriage, and furthermore wants a divorce.

In a rambling confession, Emily continues to explain that the couple hasn’t been happy in some time. This conversation bears serious consequences, and soon Cal is living alone in a one bedroom apartment.

For Cal, this leads to many nights wallowing alone at a nearby bar. Here, he observes the manipulative womanizer Jacob (Ryan Gosling) a playboy who leaves the bar every night with a different girl. Jacob also notices Cal, as he arrives at the bar every night and gets drunk on vodka cranberries like a “14 year old girl.” This sad sorrow show ultimately prompts Jacob to approach him in an effort to help him out of his incredible rut.

The two develop a relationship, Jacob playing the role of a dating guru, and Cal his uncooperative student. At first, Cal is expectedly awkward in every way, still hanging on to his ex wife whom he clearly still pines for. However, after consistent studying of Jacob’s wooing ways, he gets up enough gusto to hit on a elementary school teacher (the hilarious Marisa Tomei), which results in a hot one night stand. From that point, Cal is on fire, meeting different women every night.

Meanwhile, Jacob eventually finds himself in a pickle of his own. He meets the straight laced Hannah, an aspiring lawyer, who goes home with him one drunken night and seriously shakes up the one night stand rules. The two share an immediate connection, and soon Jacob believes he may be in love, the exact kind of situation he has berated others for getting wrapped up in.

 

One known fact is that the cast of Crazy Stupid Love absolutely carries the film above and beyond. Every actor is committed, even those saddled with the throw away roles. Carell has that ability to play socially awkward for laughs while still gaining audience respect. Moore shines in a muddled role. Her marital confusion is likely the result of a mid life crisis, though this is never clear. Still, for the “bad guy” in the breakup she remains an empathetic and likeable presence. Gosling shows serious sex appeal and a strong flair for comedy in his earlier scenes, as well as a tinge of vulnerability in the latter half. Emma Stone once again solidifies why she is a brilliant comic presence, a combination of endearing ditz and deadpan delivery. Finally, Tomei, playing a used and abused one night stand, refuses to be dismissed in her one note role, stealing every moment she’s onscreen.

The script for Crazy Stupid Love is about intergeneration amour.  There is an additional subplot wedged in-between the others revolving around Cal’s son and his adorations for an older babysitter. For all of the juggling, the script does manage to interweave the stories successfully, although there is an occasional reliance on convention and even slapstick comedy when tying it all together. Those moments hurt the film, and unfortunately register as artificial, forced, and even sit-commy.

The direction by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa is pretty damn nimble considering the curveballs of the script. The aforementioned climactic brawl could have resembled something from the three stooges, but instead registers just north of crowd pleasing entertainment. There’s an equally schmaltzy scene that he can’t save during the last ten minutes, but at least Ficarra has the smarts to allow his actors to take control, and Carell pulls through the silly dialogue.  Overall, the direction is crisp and confident.

Crazy Stupid Love is not exactly a new story. It certainly isn’t a game changer in the romantic comedy genre either. Still, it’s a warm film rife with rich performances, great chemistry and an enormous heart. In this current romantic comedy wasteland, it’s refreshing to sit through a movie that actually gets most of it right.

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com

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Pictures Courtesy of Warner Brothers