Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

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Romantic comedies these days routinely suck. If you think I'm exaggerating to make a point, no, it's been scientifically proven by a person who writes lists for a different blog. We live in a world where grating shit like The Ugly Truth and The Bounty Hunter are the norm rather than the exception, and that's fucking terrifying.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is a film that heard that collective cry of the romantic comedy fan. It shows up and trumpets, "I'm not egregiously terrible! Just kind of bland! Isn't that great?!"

And, by god, these days it is.

The biggest problem with Crazy, Stupid, Love (besides the weird ass use of commas in its title) comes from its choice of who has the main plot: Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore are a long married couple that suddenly find themselves talking divorce after Moore decides to give Kevin Bacon a whirl. Moore is repentant and Carrell is practically comatose. These character beats get repeated several dozen times throughout the film, and are, ironically, beat into a dull pulp.

This is a tepid story at the center of some amusing interactions. Yay?

Carrell's loneliness balloons until he meets Ryan Gosling in a trendy bar. Gosling is sick of his sob story and gives him that makeover that movies like this are built on: ugly duckling, lovely swan, you know the story. Carrell becomes a lady killer, Moore flirts with some Bacon, and Gosling falls hard for a moderately charming Emma Stone.

I'm sure that doesn't sound overly complicated, but I've left out three or four characters who flesh out the plot, the most annoying of which is Moore/Carrell's son, a mop haired little twerp who steadfastly refuses to believe his parents are separated. To top things off, he has an enormous crush on his babysitter. When she walks in on him masturbating, he's momentarily embarrassed but then proudly declares that it's her that he was thinking of. She was less than charmed; I concurred. Later she began to warm up to the kid, and I think that's where me and the film split ways.

It gets worse as he begins to ramble on about soul mates, and it's here that Crazy, Stupid, Love reveals its true nature. While the characters humorously and effectively wrestle with infidelity, daddy issues, the age gap, technology, and much more, the film's willingness to let the kid to ramble on and on about how we're all meant for "only one person" is childishly sanctimonious. It's a plateful of social mores force fed to an audience. Do the makers of this film really demand that we believe in something so damned silly?

Combine this with Carrell and Moore's story running out of steam, and Gosling and Stone's story getting gyped and you're left with something that is a hair away from not working. Thankfully, the performers are up to the task and make most of the comedy tropes work. Marissa Tomei handily has the best role as the first woman Carell tries to bed, and her unwavering charm allows her to pick up whole scenes and have her way with them.

No I don't have a crush SHUT THE FUCK UP

Gosling, throughout the film, can be considered nothing short of charisma monster. Matched here with the indifferent Carrell, he exudes a comic timing and menacing joy in the way he lives his own kind of sheltered life. When he finally gets to let his guard down, he doesn't lose that edge that makes him compelling. He changes from someone who was needing a father figure into realizing who that is for him-- only it turns out to arrive in an amusingly twisted way.

There's a decent chunk of cleverness to the film when it isn't badgering the audience with cliches. The directing duo of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have an interesting background here, both being writers who crafted Bad Santa and Cats and Dogs 2 (that latter review isn't mine, for the record), and here they again manage to stay atop a tightrope between indie sensibilities and crass commercial fodder.

Like those films, Crazy, Stupid, Love isn't great, but it isn't terrible, and it's kind of fun. Like I said, these days? That almost constitutes a miracle.

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Posted by Danny

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