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Theatrical Review: This brom-com full of sexy people (and Steve Carell) has as much to do with real relationships as Cowboys & Aliens does with the real history of extraterrestrial encounters in the Old West. But the actors hit their broad character notes nicely and the increasingly unlikely proceedings are deftly and humorously handled.
Ostensibly Crazy, Stupid, Love is a roundelay of good, deep-down decent people flailing in romances gone wrong. There’s Steve Carell, divorced by his movie wife Julianne Moore (always effortlessly better than any material she’s given) because she’s having a mid-life crisis that involves zero degrees of naked separation from Kevin Bacon.
And their son (Zathura’s Jonah Bobo) is a middle-schooler doomed to crush on his high-school babysitter (America’s Top Model’s Analeigh Tipton, earnestly and gawkily acquitting herself well in her major-role debut), who in turn is hopelessly in love with Carell’s own boring, safe, solid self. (Don’t worry, it’s completely unbeknownst to him.)
Meanwhile Ryan Gosling’s pick-up artist Jacob doesn’t deploy lines as much as a relentlessly confident attitude–his smile is even more devastating than those pecs, and he even comes with his own Moroccan Morricone theme music. Naturally he falls for the One Girl Who Doesn’t Buy His Shtick (at least not at first): the always sexy dorky Emma Stone, who doesn’t so much have her own character as she weaves in and out of the narrative when needed by others’ story arcs.
So as surely as Gosling will school Carell in how to dress right (with exasperated exclamations like, “Be better than the Gap”) and score bar chicks, soon the tables will turn and he’ll need the older man’s advice on relationships that run deeper than just charming women into bed with a sure-fire Dirty Dancing move.
Crazy, Stupid, Love keeps Carell and Moore’s grown-up marriage and divorce at its center, but at heart writer Dan Fogelman Cars 1 & 2, Tangled) and co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris) only have eyes for Carell and Gosling’s bromance—their scenes crackle with an energy and mutual affection missing from the movie’s other love plots. (Though Gosling and Stone are ridiculously sexy together.)
Gosling is easily one of our best working actors under 40, and even in a lightweight bit of entertainment like this he feels almost supernaturally committed to the role. Funny as Gosling is, he may have a little ways to go before he’s as funny as Steve Carell–but Carell himself also needs more time before he’s completely purged the Michael Scott DNA from his comedic system.
We’ve seen this character before from Carell–eyes wide, mouth pulled into a panicked grin of fear, choking on desperate bluster and jaunty impotency–but it works beautifully here bouncing against Gosling’s bemused mentorship.
Ficarra and Requa love them some nervous high-speed cross talking, and for the most part they keep Crazy, Stupid, Love clicking right along. Though inevitably thin on real emotions, the film feels quick on its feet but centered enough to keep the viewer passably invested. On the occasions things start to sag, either Gosling takes his shirt off or Marisa Tomei shows up to steal scenes with the adorable, manic-goofball glee of a crazed sex ferret.
All these seductively likable actors carry the film over its multiplying conveniences, though eventually all those intertwining character arcs and plot mechanisms can’t help but end in a contrived Three’s Company/Curb Your Enthusiasm pileup. (There’s a real whopper of a narrative contortion near the end.)
And Fogelman’s script eventually runs out of moves–it fails to stick a genuinely satisfying ending, relying instead on a grab bag of rom-com clichés.
But overall, Moore and Stone; Bacon and Tomei; Bobo and Tipton; and most of all Gosling and Carell make Crazy, Sexy, Love a witty bit of warmhearted entertainment that’s very easy to fall for.
More from the cast and makers of Crazy, Stupid, Love at redbox:
- Ryan Gosling in All Good Things and Blue Valentine
- Steve Carell in Dinner for Schmucks (on DVD and Blu-ray) and Despicable Me (on DVD and Blu-ray)
- Julianne Moore in Elektra Luxx and The Kids are All Right
- Emma Stone in Easy A and Zombieland
- Jonah Bobo in Zathura: A Space Adventure
- Marisa Tomei in The Lincoln Lawyer (on DVD and Blu-ray)
- Kevin Bacon in Elephant White
- Directors Ficarra and Requa’s I Love You Phillip Morris