Crazy Stupid Love (2011) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language
Running Time: 118 min.
Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, Joey King, Marisa Tomei, Beth Littleford, John Carroll Lynch, Kevin Bacon, Janine Barris, Josh Groban
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Screenplay: Dan Fogelman
Review published March 13, 2013
Crazy Stupid Love opens with a scene with husband Cal Weaver (Carell, Get Smart) hearing from his anguished, high school sweetheart wife of 25 years, Emily (Moore, Blindness), that she wants a divorce. What's worse, she tells him she cheated on him with a man from work (Bacon, X-Men: First Class). The two separate, leaving Cal despondent, frequenting the local club where he does little more than drink and become overbearing to the other folks at the bar who find his tirades about his wife's indiscretions to be a little TMI. A club Casanova named Jacob (Gosling, Drive) makes Cal an offer to change his ways from schlubby, sad-sack hubby to stylish, savvy and sexy ladies man. Meanwhile, their precocious 13-year-old son Robbie (Bobo, Zathura) is discovering about love on his own when he develops a crush on his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Tipton, The Green Hornet), who has a crush herself on Cal. Lastly, Hannah (Stone, Friends with Benefits) is struggling to get her own love life going with her steady-but-boring boyfriend (Groban) while trying to embark on her career as a lawyer.
Dan Fogelman's (Fred Claus, Cars) script contains kernels of truth, some of which occasionally bubble up to the surface, but those moments are all but washed out by sitcom-flavored contrivances and manufactured attempts to get easy laughs. The directing duo of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris) show an eye for the visual, but exhibit little regard for how to frame a comedy for laughs, or pace the editing for punctuation of erudite points. What the film really lacks is subtlety, as all too often, it plays out like a feature-length episode of an average HBO comedy. There's almost no degrees of separation between any two characters in the movie (which is appropriate for a movie featuring Kevin Bacon), with such contrivances such as having one of the women that Cal ends up bedding discovered later to be someone who knows Robbie.
If Crazy Stupid Love succeeds at all, it's due to a strong cast, with Ryan Gosling especially performing well as the charming and seductive ladies man. Carell delivers the funny but vulnerable schmoe you expect, while there are some quality scenes involving Julianne Moore that work well when not in the middle of a wholly contrived grab for manufactured laughs. And there are a few too many side stories and plots that feel wholly needless in the movie, or play out in a jokey, unnatural way (One involves the babysitter's discovery of the young boy masturbating, which he follows up by an unsolicited and unabashed confession of how he thinks of her when he does it).
If the film had stuck to the plausible, about foibles and folly of a marriage that goes sour when one or both parties get comfortable and decide not to really try any more, perhaps this could have been the winning romance-oriented comedy worthy of strong praise. Instead, it feels more like a film that itself doesn't really try, content to offer up easy chuckles and obvious repartee, shying completely away from moments of the heart. It might be worth a watch for Gosling fans, or those not expecting genuine poignancy in their rom-coms, but too many contrived and poorly thought out ideas ruin much of what the film has going for it. Crazy Stupid Love has too little of the first and third words of its title to recommend, and far too much of what's in the middle.
©2013 Vince Leo