Crazy, Stupid, Love is crazy fun, not at all stupid, and a film that deserves a lot of love from adult audiences. It's smart, doesn't play down to its audience, and has some of the best chemistry among its lead actors we've seen displayed onscreen this year. Crazy, Stupid, Love is such a refreshingly funny film with a strong ensemble cast and a sharp, witty script (by Tangled writer Dan Fogelman) that it could wind up being one of the best comedies to hit theaters this year.
The pacing's perfect, the supporting characters are all worthy of their own storylines, and the dialogue is - brace yourself for a real shocker - believable. It's not your typical romantic comedy, delivering a couple of surprising plot twists that will catch you off-guard and characters that don't behave in line with rom-com norms. Fogelman's script deftly balances the multiple storylines and gives each character its due, with romance, love and/or lust propelling each of the arcs forward to satisfying and not entirely predictable conclusions.
Ryan Gosling (and his rock-hard abs) makes for a smoldering hot ladies man while Steve Carell balances things out by playing a guy with absolutely no game. Together, Gosling and Carell are a formidable team as Gosling's character guides Carell's through the ins and outs of dating life in the 2000s.
Carell plays Cal who's married to Emily (Julianne Moore) and is the father of two cute kids. Cal and Emily have been a couple since they were teenagers - she's the only woman he's ever slept with - and now in their 40s, they're at a rocky stage in their marriage. In fact, it's not just rocky, it's dead. Emily admits to sleeping with one of her co-workers, David (Kevin Bacon), and now wants a divorce, which sends Cal out to single bars looking for someone to connect to and commiserate with.
Enter Jacob (Gosling), a smooth-talking hunk of a man with slick pick-up lines and an 'I get whatever I want whenever I want it' attitude. He takes pity on the sad-sack Cal and takes him under his wing. After completely altering Cal's hair, wardrobe and making him give up drinking alcohol through a straw, Jacob teaches him the way to woo women.
Meanwhile, Cal's son (Jonah Bobo) is hot for his just slightly older babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), and proclaims his love for the pretty teen at the most inappropriate times. Complicating matters, the babysitter has a thing for the much older Cal.
And then there's Hannah (Emma Stone). She thinks she wants her boyfriend, Richard (singer Josh Groban showing he actually has a little acting talent), to propose, but her best friend Liz (Liza Lapira) thinks that would be a major mistake. And, she's right. Aside from the fact the guy's pretty much a dweeb, he's also not ready to take that major leap forward in their relationship, and so Hannah does some leaping of her own - right into the studly arms of Jacob who previously unsuccessfully tried to hit on her at the bar.
And last but not least, one of Cal's first conquests in his new life as a single dad on the prowl is a woman (Marisa Tomei) he soon regrets ever having laid not just his eyes on.
Incredibly, none of these stories are shortchanged as writer Fogelman and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa found the perfect blend of all these components. And, while doing this amazing juggling act with the multiple storylines, they never once drop the ball by not supplying some sort of ending to each person's quest for happiness with the opposite sex.
As for the acting, kudos to the filmmakers for putting the unlikely team of Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling together as new best friends on the prowl. Carell's got the attitude and sincerity needed to portray this man who doesn't want to be on the loose again after so many years of married life and isn't even sure what went so horribly wrong in his marriage. Gosling normally makes his home in more dramatic fare, and Crazy, Stupid, Love allows him to show off a softer, sexier side than is normally exposed in his usual choice of projects.
Emma Stone and Julianne Moore portray two women at very different moments in their lives, with Stone's character ready for a relationship while Moore's is feeling the affects of a long-term marriage that has lost its passion. Both actresses portray these women beautifully, with Stone in particular showing why she's become one of the most sought-after actresses of her generation.
And in supporting roles, Analeigh Tipton as the babysitter embarrassed beyond belief by the kid she's looking after, Jonah Bobo as the kid experiencing his first big crush, Marisa Tomei as...well...that woman, and John Carroll Lynch as the babysitter's father who finds out the hard way about his daughter's inappropriate crush on Cal all deliver terrific performances.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is a refreshingly adult comedy about people you would actually want to meet and be friends with in real life. It's the type of love story we don't get to see often enough in films, and one that plays equally well to both sexes. You'd be crazy to pass up on it in theaters.
Crazy, Stupid, Love was directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and is rated PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language.
Theatrical Release: July 29, 2011
Also of Interest: Top 10 Comedies of 2011