Director: Glenn Ficara, John Requa
Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Analeigh Tipton, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Bobo
Plot: Cal Weaver (Carrell) becomes a drunken wreck after an unexpected divorce. However, smooth ladies’ man, Jacob (Gosling) pities him and teaches him how to talk to women once again.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is, by every definition of the word, a rom-com. It definitely delivers on both genres with resounding success. The jokes are superb, deftly handled by, rather predictably, the comedic legend Steve Carell, but also by the rest of the cast, who are usually seen in more dramatic ventures. It also is definitely a romantic movie, the entire film, including the purposefully soppy title, dedicated to celebrating and also, in some cases, condemning love. So, yes, this film is a rom-com. Yet why does it feel slightly underserving to lump this film with that genre?
It isn’t as if Ficara and Requa are ashamed of being a rom-com. In fact, there are moments when the film descends into the broadest clichés imaginable. The film ends at a graduation party, where the characters use the theatre stage to declare undying love in the movie’s eleventh hour. Dirty Dancing is used to solidify a new couple. Parents get in the way of young love. But these clichés are handled with such a light touch, you barely recognise that they’ve been slipped in. This is a bunch of stock scenes stapled together, but coasting under the radar, fooling the majority of audiences. The reason that it breaks away from the rest of the genre is that it takes itself seriously and aims for something a little higher than most. The script may hit the same points that we expect with the typical love story, but the writers spend a little longer examining each scene. Crazy, Stupid, Love is a rather long movie, a slow-burning one too. But this helps in the long run, as it proves that, in not being in a rush, the director and writers were able to get the most out of their cast and story beats. There are certain moments a stock rom-com movie would have been rushing through to get to the meat of the narrative, but Crazy, Stupid, Love revels in. It rarely takes the easy choice, putting these characters under the microscope and questioning how they would react. It almost begins to push against the stereotype, expected apologies traded for unforgiving quips. Crazy, Stupid, Love is a screenplay that is striving to be something more. This is probably why it has attracted such a stand-out cast. Steve Carrell has been threatening to be amazing for years and this is a screenplay that tests his acting prowess. Carrell is wondrous, when it comes to proving how good he actually is. He is able to bounce between loveable oaf, sprouting embarrassing rubbish in a bar, to grieving divorcee, who you absolutely empathise and feel for. Paired with Ryan Gosling, who mocks his pretty boy image for the first half of the movie, but as the movie comes to a close, he finds something deeper and truly engaging. Emma Stone is also on great form, bleeding so much charisma, you swear she is moments from running out. She never does. The younger actor here, Jonah Bobo, handling the tricky role of a thirteen year old in love with his babysitter (who happens to be in love with his Dad). This is where you imagine the movie is going to collapse, with the younger actors. However, while they definitely never engage as fully as when Carell and Gosling are on-screen, they hold their own remarkably well. Then there are the likes of Julianne Moore and Kevin Bacon, who you would never imagine taking on such understated roles. But they definitely add to the proceedings rounding up the cast. It makes for a powerhouse ensemble piece that rarely puts a foot wrong when it comes to performances.
But even as the film sweetly moves along, it really proves itself when it gets to the final third. In many ways, the final twist isn’t as clever as it first appears. Its ingenuity is that there is no foreshadowing to tease the potential reveal. It means that it works as a total left hook that lands the biggest shock, and greatest scene of the movie. I adore the moment, but others, especially those not already won over by the film up to this point, will find the reveal a little under-whelming. A matter of taste, then.
Final Verdict: Crazy, Stupid, Love is a delightful surprise, taking a clichéd genre and elevating it to a thoughtful romantic comedy.