Movie Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

August 23, 2011

By MIRANDA FORESMAN

Hearing the words “romantic comedy” is any guy’s worst nightmare, second date or twentieth year of marriage. “Rom-com” equates to pain and suffering through shmoopiness and star-crossed drivel. But every now and again a romantic comedy comes along and breaks the confines of wretchedness, making itself into an endearing and worthwhile piece of cinema. I would like to argue that Crazy, Stupid, Love is one such film.

To summarize, a newly broken-up marriage finds two adults left to discover who they are outside of the relationship they had become. Granted, the premise is not exceptional, but Crazy, Stupid, Love does manage to tap in to real emotions like pain, grief, humor, and (of course) love, all without being too serious about itself.

When the previews for Crazy, Stupid, Love started rolling a couple of months ago, I knew I wanted to see it for the cast alone. Julianne Moore is impeccable always, and Steve Carell is guaranteed good for a laugh. Putting them together seemed like putting caviar with Velveeta, but in Crazy, Stupid, Love, the two are convincing as a couple. Their sadness on screen is quite heart wrenching, and their laughter seems sincere. They are consummate professionals and do not disappoint. But wait, there’s more!

Well balanced complexity is one of the finer points of Crazy, Stupid, Love. To the main plot line, add in the bar-frequenting womanizer Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who takes the newly single Cal (Carell) under his well-tailored wing to nurse him back to manhood. Show the estranged wife Emily (Moore) trying to figure out why she slept with Kevin Bacon’s character and why she saw the latest Twilight film (I think poor taste is a great excuse for both!). Then toss in Hannah (Emma Stone), the cute, smart legal student who allegedly conquers the philandering heart of Jacob. The trailer for Crazy, Stupid, Love gives away the majority of the plot while thankfully leaving the stylish twist at the end a mystery.

The side stories enveloped within the bigger picture were fairly well played, particularly the couple’s son Robbie’s plights. First, love as a pre-teen is pretty fascinating to watch, and this kid has it bad for his babysitter. Furthermore, it is easy to sympathize with Robbie’s position as the child of parents splitting up—it’s not easy for anyone. Young actor Jonah Bobo plays the part really well, and will be known for his wit and timing should he stick with movies.

Breaking up has ramifications for friends, too, as evidenced in the scene courtesy of the couple who are mutual friends with Cal and Emily. The wife instructs her husband to break up his friendship with Cal because she has chosen Team Emily. So, with the best of intentions, the husband buys Cal a parting gift of cologne and bids him farewell over the carnage of his marriage. Carell makes it funny, but it is a truly authentic moment.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is full of little gems like this, glimpses into humanity, if you will. I found it charming, and in the end very appealing. Ryan Gosling shines in his delightfully superficial character, and Emma Stone has significant movie-star potential. One of the better movies of the summer, Crazy, Stupid, Love gives the romantic comedy genre a respectable addition.

Film critic Miranda Foresman lives in Arroyo Grande.