Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
Look, I’ll be honest. Crazy, Stupid, Love looked Kinda, Freaking, Meh. Yet another tale of a broken marriage in need of some saving while a host of supporting characters undergoes similar epiphanies in their own lives (*puke*).
It’s a plot we’ve all seen before, most of us could write the outline of the script down before the opening credits finish, and anyone who doesn’t know how it’s going to end should schedule an appointment with a medical professional. But no matter how good one may be at setting the appropriate expectation level, there’s a reason critics have to see all of a film in order to review it: because they just might be wrong.
And in the case of Crazy, Stupid, Love, I couldn’t have been more surprised to find out how funny, charming, and poignant the whole affair turned out.
As the film starts, Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) are at a crossroads, having let routine and complacency infect their marriage. Their split leads to Cal meeting Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a womanizer whose good looks and smooth style match his flashy threads and washboard abs (a great actor and a male model, like I didn’t have enough insecurities already). Together, Cal and Jacob teach each other how to tap into the elements of themselves that have kept them from finding real happiness.
It sounds super cheesy … and it is … but the ride is so much fun. Carell and Gosling share remarkable chemistry and their scenes together work exactly how an odd couple pairing should. Playing Hannah, the girl who puts a stop to Jacob’s wild ways, Emma Stone is in top form and her off-beat humor and disarming beauty play off Gosling’s shiny facade wonderfully. Moore isn’t breaking new ground here, playing yet again the unfulfilled wife (it feels like she’s got that niche cornered), but Carell is so endearing and earnest that their partnership feels sincere, despite the formulaic arc to their characters.
Two young actors worth a special mention are Analeigh Tipton and Jonah Bobo. Tipton plays the babysitter with a crush on Cal, making his son Robbie’s (Bobo) crush on her all the more awkward. There’s a huge risk to this angle, as lesser performances would have sunk a major element of the film, but both play things just right and quickly steal the audience’s heart.
Now, I fully realize that a look at the trailer, and my apparent gushing, may not quite paint this as a must-see Summer movie. However, and I say this without any of my usual sarcasm, Crazy, Stupid, Love is one of my five favorite films of 2011 and anyone who deems themselves a fan of sublimely sweet and romantic comedies should make every effort to see this. It’s perhaps the biggest surprise of the year and reminds me that every new film is an opportunity for something special … even if my usually low expectations tend to be right more often than not.
It’s so nice to be wrong sometimes.
Crazy, Stupid, Love hits theaters on July 29, 2011 and is rated PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language.
More on Crazy, Stupid, Love:
– Photo gallery
– Movie poster