Crazy, Stupid, Love does not hold back on telling you what its about from the offset. Emily (Julianne Moore) wants to divorce Cal (Steve Carrell) with Cal not exactly reacting well to it, their son 13 year old Robbie (Jonah Bobo) has a crush on his 17 year old babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who has a crush on Cal, and suave womanizer Jacob (Ryan Gosling) tries and fails to attract Hannah (Emma Stone), who isn’t taking to his charm initiative. As we find out more about these main characters, their lives seem to intertwine together in various ways with the main focus being on Gosling meeting Carrell and turning him into a version of himself.
The biggest surprise for me watching it was that it was funny. No, correction, downright hilarious at parts. It was a struggle to even remember the last time I found myself laughing towards the side of my seat, wiping tears from my eyes and trying to get my composure back. Really, the main aspects that make that possible are the actors and Don Fogelman’s quite superb script. Carrell seems to shine the most in films such as this but the rest of the cast from Gosling to Stone to Moore to Bobo and Kevin Bacon, playing the man Emily had sex with to cheat on Cal, seem to have a deep interest in making the dialogue but one of my favourite performances was from Marisa Tomei who plays…I won’t spoil it but how it goes into the story is one of the highlights of the movie and her character in general provides some great laughs.
That’s the great thing about it, too. The script is written so well that if you look back on it, you realize the hints and clues they give you into the overall story but when you watch it for the first time, they are hidden well enough to make the surprises come and go. If you get a great crowd like I was lucky enough to at Empire Big Screen, it’s all the more better when this happens because the film would have been worse without the collective gasps for some of the film’s turning points.
Walking home from seeing it, I was trying to figure out what it reminded me of. One of the first that came to my head, mostly because of the Julianne Moore connection, was last year’s The Kids Are All Right which, if you remember from my review, I thought had a good concept but unlikeable characters. It’s a strange one to think about as one but at the same time, it kind of covered some of the same aspects of family, unusual situations but the thing that got me more was the immidiate differences of likeable characters despite the situations they get themselves into. I should dislike Gosling’s character because he’s a womaniser but there is that aspect of him wanting to help Carrell’s character out that makes me wonder where it goes. Same goes for Moore’s character who, despite cheating on her husband, deeply regrets it and has no real clue what to do and doesn’t take the high road on it. It’s simply because, from how I see it, the film brings a charm to everyone. I want things to go well for these people because they’ve given me enough to want them to get something from it. The same can’t be said for The Kids Are All Right which…didn’t.
Let’s not take away anything, either, from the direction. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are two experienced and somewhat underappreciated Hollywood comedic workers and whilst their works are mixed in terms of critical and public reaction, this movie in particular shows their knack of timing, pacing and hilarity. Their cast, as steller as it is, is able to click and work together as well as feeling like nothing they’re saying is forced to remind you its a joke rather than throw it at you like a throwing axe and hope it hits you head on. Some of it is done with the tongue in cheek and some of it is done with genuine emotion. To get those two right in 2011 is a hard thing to pull off and they’ve managed it with no problem.
It’s hard to find a downside to the movie, if I can be blunt about it. What I will say about it, though, is that it is still a romantic comedy and it still does the things a Rom Com does but there came a point when I just didn’t care about that. Sure, the ending is as positive as you’d think it’d be but not everything is wrapped up and parts of it don’t go the way most mainstream Rom Coms do but really, it was the way it all worked together that made me not care about cliches or acting roles or whatever else hinders recent comedies.
Everything in Crazy, Stupid, Love seems to click. The cast, the direction, the writing, the audience participation, it all fell together for me to make it an experience I really enjoyed being a part of. The fact that it all came together to make a film that is making a very strong case for my Top 10 at the end of the year makes it all the more better.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is released September 23rd in the UK and is out on DVD in the US.