You can tell this is going to be a very writerly movie by how much punctuation is in the title. Crazy, Stupid, Love. is quite an enjoyable film thanks to some fun performances and half of a fantastic screenplay that manages to overcome the VERY STAGED writing of the other half.
Within the first minute of Crazy, Stupid, Love., Emily (Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right) loudly announces that she wants a divorce from her husband Cal (Steve Carell, The Office) while they dine in a crowded restaurant. On the way home it comes out that she’s also had an affair. Cal drowns his sorrows night after night at a hip bar until Jacob (Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine), the coolest, most confident barfly ever, takes him under his wing and transforms him into a hot shot lady-killer with a much better wardrobe. Cal uses his new found masculinity to seduce a cavalcade of women, including one who is hilariously crazy (Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler), all while longing to be back with his wife. But when Jacob finally meets a woman he can actually connect with on an emotional level (Emma Stone, Easy A), he learns that his previous lifestyle might be a stumbling block when it comes to real relationships.
The cast does a really fantastic job of trying to keep this movie grounded in a believable reality. Quite a bit of the comedy had me laughing out loud and by the end I found myself really attached to the characters. Steve Carell really takes this character through a bizarre evolution; you pity the guy, he gets annoying shockingly fast, he redeems himself, he screws it up again and again, and by the end you still like him. Ryan Gosling is outstanding as Jacob, giving a believable vulnerability to the most arrogant smooth talker you’ve ever seen. And Emma Stone… what can I say? Her first portrayal of a woman instead of a girl and she… is…. a… MOVIE STAR.
There are way too many coincidences and “movie moments,” mostly revolving around Cal’s son giving speeches (eye-rollingly stagey writing), but I was consistently surprised by some of the turns the script took. There’s a sequence in the second half when everything suddenly starts coming together that is worth ticket price all by itself. However, I’m kind of surprised this is a PG-13. The entire movie revolves around sex, there’s an abundance of swearing (including implementing the one f-bomb that PG-13s are permitted), and the teenaged babysitter subplot relies heavily on taking nude photos of herself with the intention of getting a guys attention. Not great life lessons for the adolescent crowd.
My personal opinion: A good time at the movies for grown ups. Even though there’s a lot of heavy material about heartbreak in here, at it’s core, it’s a redemptive story about fighting for your true love. Just what Hollywood always told me. —Jake Jarvi