Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.



Rating

Directed by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa. Starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, Joey King, Marisa Tomei, Beth Littleford, John Carroll Lynch, Kevin Bacon, Liza Lapira, Josh Groban. Written by Dan Fogelman.

There’s a lot to like in Crazy, Stupid, Love, most of all the cast of characters. These people are genuinely well-meaning and empathetic, right down to the supporting roles, and played by a fun and engaging cast. There are no villains here, only flawed human beings beset and befuddled by the notion of love.

It’s a shame, then, that they’re trapped in a sitcom-level plot that feels artificial and contrived when it isn’t purely formulaic. Instead of progressing naturally through the story, they’re forced through uncomfortable machinations at the whim of the plot. And instead of experiencing these characters naturally, we’re kept at arm’s length by a script that hides key information from us in order to “surprise” us later on.

The focus of Crazy, Stupid, Love is Cal (Steve Carell), who gets an unusual answer one night when he asks his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) what she wants for dessert: “I want a divorce.” Cal still loves his wife, but she doesn’t just want a divorce, she also been fooling around with coworker David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Unwilling to confront the situation, Cal moves out, and drowns his sorrows in cocktails at the local bar.

But Cal isn’t alone for long: pick-up artist Jacob (Ryan Gosling) soon takes an interest in his pathetic situation, and vows to turn Cal into a ladies’ man. Soon, his one-size-too-large suit and Velcro wallet are gone and he’s using smooth pick-up lines (sorta) to land Kate (Marisa Tomei), among other conquests.

Carell is fun here, but Cal’s character arc is nothing special – we’ve seen this countless times before. More interesting is a subplot involving his 13-year-old son (Jonah Bobo), who is in love with his 17-year-old babysitter (Analeigh Tipton); the babysitter, in turn, is in love with Cal. Things come to a head during a climactic scene which provides the film a Three’s Company-like comedic highpoint. Ultimately, however, this storyline is resolved in an unnaturally queasy manner.

Most interesting is a subplot involving Jacob and Hannah (Emma Stone), a law student he unsuccessfully tried to pick up who eventually comes back to him. Gosling and Stone are incredibly charismatic performers, and their all-too-brief scenes together are the best thing Crazy, Stupid, Love has to offer.

But their storyline receives the short end of the stick, a sacrificial offering to the plot. The Hannah character has a number of scenes, but she’s just floating in the movie during the first half, without any context: something’s up. There’s a ‘twist’ towards the end that some may find clever; I called it early and rolled my eyes as it unfolded. In any case, the script uses this to prematurely end the Jacob-Hannah storyline in extremely unsatisfying fashion.

Crazy, Stupid, Love was written by Dan Fogelman (Cars, Bolt, Tangled), and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who wrote the sharp-tongued script for Bad Santa and directed Phillip Morris, I Love You. They’ve bitten off more than they can chew here, with too many characters and storylines and not enough time to sufficiently explore them.

Good soundtrack features original music by Christophe Beck and Nick Urata alongside a number of hits past and present.

***

Also opening: Saxána a Lexikon kouzel (Little Witch on a Broomstick; showtimes | IMDb), the latest fairy tale from director Václav Vorlíček (Tři oříšky pro Popelku). Screening in Czech.



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