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Crazy, Stupid, Love. (A Movie Review)

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.


Starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, John Carroll Lynch, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, Jonah Bobo, Analeigh Tipton, Josh Groban, Liza Lapira, Joey King, Beth Littleford, Mekia Cox, Julianna Guill, Zayne Emory, Crystal Reed and Reggie Lee.

Screenplay by Dan Fogelman.

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.

Distributed by Warner Bros.  118 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

There is an interesting trend in romantic comedies.  All too often, it seems, you don’t really like the main characters enough to become really invested in whether or not they find true happiness.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a film that bucks this trend.  There are six main romantic players here – and quite a few satellites in their worlds – and almost all of them are likable, good people.  Even the people you really shouldn’t like – the sleazy bar lothario, the cheating wife, the guy who seduced the married woman, the overwrought schoolteacher whose history with lying men has pushed her a bit over the edge, the high school slut, the boring lawyer who doesn’t realize he is dating way out of his weight class – are all somehow mostly human and fascinating in their foibles.

This overriding sense of pleasantness does wonders for Crazy, Stupid, Love.  It’s not the world’s most original film, but it is a very likeable one.  By the time the climax comes and there are just a few too many wild plot coincidences to totally buy into the movie, you are already sold.  You like these people – all of these people – and you hope for them all to get a happy ending.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. is an old-fashioned ensemble romance, essentially honing in on three relationships of varying length and intensity, but also following quite a few others who are satellites or potential alternate matches to the main characters.

The set-up is pretty simple.  Steve Carell and Julianne Moore are Cal and Emily, married former college sweethearts who have grown bored in their lives.  One night in the latest of a numbing progression of nearly silent dinners, Emily tells Cal she wants a divorce.

It turns out that Emily has had an affair with a co-worker (Kevin Bacon) – but he was a symptom, not a cause of the break-up.

Cal is wrecked by the betrayal; all the while he doesn’t even notice that his seventeen-year-old baby-sitter (Analeigh Tipton) has a huge crush on him.  Nor does she acknowledge that his twelve-year-old son (Jonah Bobo) has a huge crush on her.

Cal starts hanging out at a local singles bar, telling his tale of woe to anyone who will listen to him – which is not many people.  One person who does, though is Jacob (Ryan Gosling), the local lothario, who takes pity on the older sad sack and decides to teach the guy how to meet women.

However, Jacob has met a young law student (Emma Stone) who may just convince him to give up his free-loving ways, if only she breaks up with her stick-in-the-mud lawyer boyfriend (singer Josh Groban).

As you can see, it is a complicated plot, weaving these characters and more in and out of each others’ lives and eventually bringing them together in surprising (if occasionally slightly too convenient) ways.

The screenplay by Dan Fogelman (you don’t often find a non-animated film that has one screenwriter and two directors) is smart and funny, full of clever dialogue and some genuine pathos (okay, occasionally too much genuine pathos).

Despite the occasional huffing and puffing that the film does to pull together its many plot strands and one or two plot missteps (a gift the teen babysitter gives to the little boy, though a small point, feels very ill-advised), for the most part we are rooting for these characters and that pulls us through the contrivances.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2011 All rights reserved. Posted: July 29, 2011.

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