By: Lawrence Foster
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
There are some things I fib about to avoid ridicule from friends. For example when they ask what music I listen to, the answer is a stock “AC/DC,” but in reality Josh Groban is the CD you will find in my stereo.
The same goes for movies. While I enjoy blood and gore fests like Saw and Hostel, I am just as likely to be caught watching a romantic comedy.
Now that the secret is out, it is OK to admit that I was very much looking forward to the rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love. From a stellar cast led by Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling, and the directing tandem of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who were at the helm of the hilarious but over-looked “I Love you Phillip Morris,” CSL had the makings of a fantastic rom-com. Luckily for movie goers, CSL is able to overcome a stagnant first 15-20 minutes to deliver on its potential.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is about married couple Cal (Carrell) and Emily (Julianne Moore). We meet the couple sitting in a fancy restaurant, trying to decide on what to have for dessert. Emily decides to pass on the cheesecake and goes straight for … divorce.
Cal is obviously blindsided and as if things weren’t bad enough, on the drive home, Emily confesses that she slept with a co-worker, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Cal’s response to this news would have been hilarious if the previews hadn’t ruined it, but that is a topic for another day.
Before the “couple” arrives home, the audience is sent to their home where the babysitter Jessica (Analeight Tipton) is watching Robbie (standout performance by Jonah Bobo) and Molly (Joey King). Jessica unwittingly walks in on Robbie doing something that is … awkward and that delivers the first laugh of the film.
Cal moves out after the awful dinner and confession and quickly finds himself at a bar, where he bemoans his romantic woes. After a few nights of Cal’s sad-sack routine, ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) calls Cal over and offers to be his “coach,” so long as he axes drinking through a straw.
Once the seemingly mismatched pals start working together, the movie picks up steam. After a wardrobe makeover, Cal shadows Jacob as he goes home with gorgeous woman, after gorgeous woman. Cal feels he has learned nothing, but in a gut-busting sequence, Jacob “Mr. Miyagi’s” Cal into gaining confidence.
At this point, Jacob sets Cal loose on his first prey, Kate (Marisa Tomei) and when Jacob’s teaching seems to not be working, Cal spews the truth to Kate and shockingly, that’s what gets her in the sack. Unfortunately for Cal (but thankfully for the audience) the school teacher’s role in the film isn’t done yet.
After Cal’s success with Kate, he transforms into a middle-aged version of Jacob and starts bagging women left and right.
As always, I won’t go into more detail about the plot, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Hannah (Emma Stone). At first she seemed like a bit of a throw-away character, but much like the film, Hannah starts delivering the laughs as the movie marches on.
When the film started, I sided with Cal’s character because it seemed as if his character was the victim of an affair. But by the end of the film, there isn’t a single “villain.” Each character in the film has flaws and all everyone desires is to be loved by the object of their affection. That is a commendable feat. When I watch rom-com’s, there is usually one character who I just can’t stand by the end of it. Based on my loathing of people who cheat on spouses or significant others, that person should be Emily. But through the film it becomes obvious that Cal was robotic and shut-off and that is what drove his wife to someone else’s bed. That in no way condones the cheating, but I sort of understand why she did. Dan Fogelman penned the script and he did an amazing job making traditional “hate” characters like Emily, forgivable.
On the flip side, there is usually one side of the couple who acts as the “hero” and seeing as Cal is the one who got cheated on, it would seem as if he would fit the bill. But as I pointed out above, he drove his wife away and while his escapades after moving out deliver plenty of laughs, they aren’t actions that someone who still is in love with his wife would do. The point is, rom-com’s traditionally don’t have these types of three-dimensional characters and that really sets it apart from, and above, other films of the genre.
In addition to the fantastic characters, Crazy, Stupid, Love has a great story that weaves many storylines together and they all hilariously cross paths in a memorable sequence near the end of the film. In addition, Crazy, Stupid, Love is the first rom-com that has ever shocked me with character revelations. I’m not going to even hint at what they are, but when it happened at the screening I watched, an audible “gasp and laugh” erupted from the audience.
Crazy, Stupid, Love isn’t the perfect movie. As noted above, the film takes a bit too long to get rolling and some characters that had huge potential for laughs (Josh Groban’s character I am looking at you) weren’t utilized. Aside from those gripes, Crazy, Stupid, Love is the rare rom-com that will please almost everybody who watches it. So men, don’t be ashamed, whether you are with someone or living the bachelor’s life, march up the ticket counter and order your ticket(s) for Crazy, Stupid, Love proudly. You won’t regret it.