Crazy, Stupid, Love
Steve Carell & Ryan Gosling
anchor strong cast in clever comedy
Starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone
Directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
PG-13, 118 min.
Finally, a “romantic comedy” that lives up to its label.
Both riotously funny and heartwarmingly sweet, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” sprouts from the breakup of a married couple, Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore), high school sweethearts who wed young, started a family and slowly let the magic slip away. “We stopped being us,” she tells him.
Emily tentatively rekindles her office romance with a lovestruck coworker (Kevin Bacon, with just the right touch of supporting-cast charisma). Cal licks his wounds at an upscale bar, where he meets the slick, super-smooth ladies’ man Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who takes pity on his new sad sack acquaintance and agrees to give him a head-to-toe makeover.
Cal’s first “conquest” on the singles scene is a schoolteacher (Marisa Tomei) whose extracurricular enthusiasm both thrills and alarms him.
The male-mentoring relationship between Cal and Jacob puts the movie’s wheels in motion. But the ride also includes Cal and Emily’s 13-year-old son, his unrequited crush on his older, 17-year-old babysitter (Annaleigh Tipton, actually 23 and terrific), and the babysitter’s secret pining for an older man. That would be Cal, who may be newly “available,” but nonetheless remains completely oblivious to the swooning schoolgirl.
When suave Jacob falls for a smart, sensible law student (an effervescent Emma Stone) who initially doesn’t melt with his come-on lines, the stage is fully set for an eventual collision of lives, libidos, and loves that come together in a comedic crescendo.
The fun of “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is in the intersection of its multi-generational characters, in ways they don’t always see coming. Neither does the audience. That’s thanks to a sharp, clever and well-constructed script, and the sure footing of co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who never forget the basic, inherent goodness of the people whose hearts drive the story.
Stone and Gosling have a touching “seduction” scene that doesn’t end up the way either one of their characters anticipated, and Carell and Moore share an exceptionally potent, emotional stirring moment in a telephone conversation about, of all things, a water heater’s pilot light.
The hokey landing (a big, public, only-in-the-movies declaration of love) is a bit choppy, but for the most part, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” flies straight and true, a Cupid’s arrow that hits its mark. Courtship can be crazy, it tells us, and passion often makes people do and say some pretty stupid things. But love, when you finally find it, is always worth fighting for.
--Neil Pond, American Profile