CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE
*1/2 (out of 5)
July 29, 2011
Steve Carell as CAL
Ryan Gosling as JACOB
Julianne Moore as EMILY
Emma Stone as HANNAH
Analeigh Tipton as JESSICA
Jonah Bobo as ROBBIE
Marisa Tomei as KATE
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
BY KEVIN CARR
I’m getting tired of films that try to redefine romantic comedies only to fall into the same pitfalls that it accuses romantic comedies of falling into. We’ve had quite a few of these over the last year or two. There are the raunchy ones like “Going the Distance” and the recent “Friends with Benefits.” There are also the ones that try to be sweet, like this January’s stink-fest “No Strings Attached.”
I’m not sure where this backlash came from in regards to the formulaic rom com, but I haven’t seen a great need for the change. It’s not that “Crazy, Stupid, Love” was meant to change the genre, but it’s aiming for the more cynical crowd that made films like “He’s Just Not That Into You” a big hit.
But it can’t escape its own genre. Just when you think the point of the film is a bit more depressing, it slaps you in the face with neat resolve and incessant preaching about true love and soul mates.
This is the worst mixed message you’ll ever get from Hollywood, a community famous for dysfunctional, abusive and fleeting relationships. You know it’s bad when a celebrity marriage that makes it a year is championed in the press… and these are the people who tell us via “Crazy, Stupid, Love” that we need to fixate on our soul mates (or whom we think is our soul mate) and never let go. That works nicely in this film, but it’s a formula for a restraining order in the real world.
“Crazy, Stupid, Love” follows Cal (Steve Carell), who is getting a divorce from his wife of 25 years. Once he moves out, he befriends young ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who teaches Cal the ropes on how to date many beautiful women. Meanwhile, Cal’s son is pining for his babysitter, who is four years his senior. Making things worse is the fact that the babysitter has a crush on Cal.
This movie tries to execute the multi-story balance we saw in last year’s “Valentine’s Day.” However, it doesn’t execute it well at all. You can’t have an ensemble multi-story with only three storylines. When this happens, the film just gets crowded, and I found myself distracted by the son’s story which was really superfluous to the overall focus.
While the performances are fine, there’s nothing special to write home about. Carell simply channels his character from “Dan in Real Life” with a little more misogyny and stalker potential. Julianne Moore is good, but her character is a class-A bitch. And that is where the problem is… not the filmmaking or acting, but the characters.
I recently traveled to Florida and spent an afternoon at the beach. There, I saw a massive jellyfish rolling in the waves, then found a bunch of them on the sand as we walked around. Sadly, I saw more jellyfish in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” than I saw in the Florida ocean. Because not only are the characters all spineless, like jellyfish, they have no brains.
The characters do innumerable stupid things, whine throughout the film and act like children. I hated their weak-willed nature, which drove them into the dirt. And with the contrived and forced writing of the script, we had their paths crossing in silly and completely unrealistic ways.
“Crazy, Stupid, Love” does offer a departure from the standard romantic comedy. However, a departure simply for the sake of departure which gives moronic, emotionally crippled characters isn’t a good trip.
Like “Cowboys & Aliens,” which is the film this movie serves as counter-programming against, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is a very accurately named film… if you take out “Love.”