Monday, August 1, 2011
"Crazy, Stupid, Love." (2011)
Emma Stone is the new go-to girl for light comedy, there's no question about that. She's charismatic, glowing and provides the perfect blend of sassy and self-deprecating humor. In the warm and welcome delight of the summer, "Crazy, Stupid, Love." she's no different.
The revelation here, however, is Ryan Gosling who brings a remarkable knack for comedy we never knew he had before. As the suave, overbearingly charming and hustling womanizer Jacob, he nails it -- with or without his shirt on. I guess that's what you get when an Oscar-worthy actor gets casually tossed into the mix. And after being quietly overlooked for his performance in "Blue Valentine," he's bouncing back with more force, and it'll be nice to see him as the lead in George Clooney's "Ides of March." Gosling and Stone serve as one of the couples we follow in this unassuming comedy, and after seeing them together you might be wondering why we haven't seen it sooner.
Sometimes a movie comes along that takes you for surprise and sweeps you off your feet. "Crazy, Stupid, Love." from directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa ("I Love You Phillip Morris") is that movie. You may go in just expecting a conventional romantic comedy, but don't be fooled. With a stand-out ensemble cast and a thoughtful look at life that feels ever so real, it's a movie that is potent with true value and emotion firing on all cylinders. Best of all, it comes off as such breezy entertainment while dealing with weighty issues about love, longing and loss. Its characters are able to laugh it off because, before truly understanding what it means to follow your heart, they understand the pain that comes with it.
Opening with a punch to the gut, Cal (Steve Carell) hears from his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), on a nice dinner out that she wants a divorce. He's shocked to the point where exiting a moving vehicle feels like an appropriate response. She has slept with another man, a co-worker whose name turns into a repeated curse word, David Linghaden (Kevin Bacon). Maybe Cal has lost his alpha male instinct after being a cozy husband and father of three as he loafs around in wrinkled khakis and worn-in New Balance sneakers. Enter Jacob who finds Cal pitying himself in a glitzy bar and makes it his duty to give Cal both a physical and personality makeover. As Jacob tells Cal to "be better than the Gap," their moments together are magnetic, and that's only the beginning.
Other romantic mismatching involves Cal's 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who has a major crush on his babysitter, 17-year-old Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). She, however, has eyes for an older man: Robbie's dad. There's also Marisa Tomei having tons of fun as Robbie's eighth grade school teacher who feels betrayed by Cal. And, of course, there's Jacob relentlessly courting law student Hannah (Emma Stone). All of these minor subplots surround the main issue of Cal and Emily's divorce, and they are all fleshed out with fully realized characters. Each of them play an important role in the larger scheme, and even when the converging plot lines amount to absurd coincidences, the script from Dan Fogelman makes sure to keep the situations grounded in rather poignant naturalism.
There are plenty of moments worth savoring such as Emily calling Cal under the facade of having a maintenance problem but only wants to hear his voice or the night of flirtatious seduction between Jacob and Hannah which is easily the film's highlight. "Crazy, Stupid, Love." is at last what feels like an updated look at contemporary behavior in relationships -- the way they work through all the hardship and heartbreak and the hope that leaves us clinging to that crazy word we call love.