Thursday 13 October 2011

Movie Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

A romantic comedy that resembles a Where's Waldo? puzzle: a large crowd of interesting characters, something quirky happening in every corner, and a fairly delightful aha! moment. Crazy, Stupid, Love is all about love, cheerfully crazy, quite silly but not all that stupid.

Carl (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) Weaver have been married for a long time, and the relationship spark has long been extinguished. Driving back from another listless dinner, Emily breaks the news that she has slept with a co-worker, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Carl throws himself out of the car. The Weavers have a 13 year old son Robbie, who is madly in love with his 17 year old babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). Jessica, in turn, has a mad crush on Carl.

Despondent after the break-up of his marriage, Carl starts to spend long hours at the local singles bar where he is hapless at impressing women, but where he does meet Jacob (Ryan Gosling), the smoothest of operators. Jacob can seduce any woman within minutes, and leaves the bar with a different conquest every night, although he does unexpectedly strike out with attractive law student Hannah (Emma Stone). Jacob takes Carl under his wing, polishing up his skills and image to the point where Carl becomes quite the ladies man. With his new found confidence, Carl talks the high-strung and somewhat desperate Kate (Marisa Tomei) into spending the night with him, not knowing that Kate is one of Robbie's teachers.

Carl misses Emily, Robbie pines for Jessica, Jessica starts sexting Carl, David woos Emily, Kate is disgusted that Carl and Emily still seem to care for each other, and Hannah is ignored by a dishy lawyer and throws herself at Jacob. Then things start to get really crazy.

It is all hyper-kinetic light-hearted fun, the laughs are steady and mostly on the mark, and there is enough intelligent comedy to make up for the occasional dips into outright raunchiness. Crazy, Stupid, Love is perhaps over-reliant on the singles bar set, where the whole neighbourhood seems to frequently congregate, but the Dan Fogelman script is otherwise sharp and sprightly.

Co-directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra are able to wrestle the various convoluted and hormone-drenched  narratives into pretty decent shape, allowing each of the sub-stories enough time to develop and mature. And despite the love and lust overflowing from all the pores of the movie, the most interesting dynamic proves to be the eventually mutual mentorship between Carl and Jacob, a relationship that goes through surprising evolutions not usually associated with romantic comedies. Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling inject just enough genuine emotion into their roles to humanize the two men, and they carry the thread of sanity that streaks through the otherwise insane proceedings all around them.

Compared to many romantic comedies, Crazy, Stupid, Love is catchy, lucid, and a notch above.

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