Bottom Line: Pretty crazy, admittedly stupid, utterly lovable.
Directed by: Glenn Ficcara, John Requa
Starring: Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell
Offbeat romantic dramedy about Cal Weaver (Steve Carell), a happily married man. Or so it seems. One night, he is out at dinner. He asks his wife (Julianne Moore) what she wants for dessert and she proclaims, “I want a divorce!” After that incident, Cal begins visiting the bar every night, complaining about how his wife cheated on him for her co-worker, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), another nightly visitor to the bar, hears him whining and calls him over. Not to tell him to shut up, but to teach him his womanizing skills and introduce him to a world of picking up women at the bar. (He uses an analogy often that he is Miyagi from THE KARATE KID.) Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Cal, his adult daughter Hannah (Emma Stone) is starting up a relationship with none other than Jacob.
Had there not been a few impressively unique aspects to this film, which is more like a lengthened cross between a sitcom and a soap opera, it would be your conventional rom-com and nothing more. Maybe the greatest it has to offer is how the script addresses the routine of films of the genre, at times. Take, as an example, the scene in which Cal and his wife have just come back from a parent-teacher-conference-turned-heated-argument. We always see attempted humor in rom-coms when men make blunders and say things they don’t mean in front of their wives. In this sequence, it’s taken to a whole new level. Cal is trying to explain to his wife that before their marriage, she is the only one he has made love with, but at that point the number has increased. He accidentally tells her that he has now had one night stands with eight women, excluding his 25-year-long marriage. It gets better, less subtle. As his wife leaves, it begins raining heavily. We don’t have time to complain about how typical it is for a rom-com, because Carell’s character takes care of it for us: “What a cliché.”
Something else that sets this apart from the standard, spat-out rom-com that has become ridiculously common in today’s day in age, is the number of pleasing performances it holds. Carell has his usual, straightforward character (I don’t know why, but I was reminded of his character in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE when he jumped out of a moving automobile in the beginning); and Gosling has an amusing, sometimes even parodical performance as a seductive womanizer. The mother of all performances must be that from Marisa Tomei. She is happily one of the (8) women involved in a one-night stand with Cal…until he and she both discover that his son is in her eighth grade English class. Then she goes into a crazy (stupid) rant that is the perfect blend of funny and intimidating. It makes us wish she had a larger role, but she holds up the movie pretty well.
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. is something I can easily recommend to everyone–that is, if you can get past the craze and mild stupidity. The rom-com genre blend (which, in its mainstream popularity, is more like one singular genre) may be the only one that doesn’t embody an even account of the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are so few good (thank God for Woody Allen!), and we’ve been monstrously hounded by the bad and the ugly. It’s nice, therefore, to see a rom-com that diverges from the genre’s clichéd routine, goes off as something new, and flaunts its ability to shine as something that isn’t a chuckling schmaltzfest.