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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.42%
Worth A Look44.74%
Just Average: 28.95%
Pretty Crappy: 7.89%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Crazy, Stupid, Love
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Searching For A Heart"
4 stars

Amidst all the expected sturm und drang of a summer movie season filled with swishbuckling pirates, giant robots and superheroes galore, who would have expected that the romantic comedy--a genre that has more or less been on the ropes over the last few years thanks to one low-grade, low-class and brain-dead piece of hackwork after another--would begin to make a small but strong comeback as well. Although it was more than just a romantic comedy at its core, Woody Allen’s brilliant “Midnight in Paris” contained just enough of those elements to connect with audiences whose working knowledge of the Parisian artistic community of the 1920’s to make it his most commercially successful work in years as well as a critical sensation. Then just last week, “Friends with Benefits” took a fairly standard contemporary rom-com premise--can two people as attractive and inexplicably single as Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis have casual sex with each other without letting it ruin their friendship?--and transformed it into a winning work that managed to subvert a lot of the sillier narrative conventions while still working as a perfectly good example of the genre. Now we have “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” a look at the eternal war between the sexes from the viewpoint of ace soldiers, veterans who are getting too old for this stuff and the youngsters getting their first taste of battle and suffering their first wounds in the process. It may not be the most subtle or profound film in the world and I can see how some people might be slightly put off by some of its convolutions but for the most part, it is an enormously entertaining work that is very funny, occasionally touching and, as the man once said, if you aren’t careful, you just might learn a thing or two as well.

Steve Carell stars as Cal, an amiable suburban dope whose existence is as familiar and comfortable as a worn shoe--so familiar and comfortable, in fact, that he is completely poleaxed when Emily (Julianne Moore), his wife of nearly 30 years, unexpectedly announces that she wants a divorce and that she slept with a work colleague. Suddenly thrust into the throes of a midlife crisis that he never expected to find himself in, Cal moves out and starts hanging out at a local singles bar in the hopes of finding some form of companionship to fill the void left by the absence of the woman that he has loved since he was 15. Not unexpectedly, what little game he might have possessed once upon a time has completely atrophied and his combination of awkward demeanor, shlumpy clothing and sub-Supercuts haircut is a turn-off to the few people that he is able to engage in conversation for a few seconds before sobbing about how his wife left him. His complete lack of social grace does catch the eye of one person, however, and that is Jacob, a smooth, suave and eminently successful ladies man who is Cal’s polar opposite and then some. Perhaps bored by his incredible success rate, Jacob decides that he needs a challenge and offers to remake Cal in his own image so as to make him something of a catch. Out goes the cheap sneakers and Velcro wallet, in come the slick duds, haircut and patter and after a few initial stumbles, Cal finally strikes gold (among other things) one night with the foxy Kate (Marisa Tomei) and soon finds himself transformed into a sort-of chick magnet.

It all seems to be going great for a while but before long, things begin to go inexpertly and not just for Cal, who, after the initial giddy rush of being with a bunch of new women, begins pining for Emily even more than before, going so far as to sneak over to his former house in the middle of the night to secretly tend to the flowers in the backyard. As for Emily, she begins to tentatively see the co-worker that she slept with (Kevin Bacon) but while he seems like a nice enough guy in theory, she finds herself thinking about Cal more and more. Meanwhile, Jacob finally scores with Hannah (Emma Stone), a law student who is perhaps the only female who refused to fall for his usual line of patter, but is shocked and surprised to discover that he wants what would have normally been a one-night stand to extend into something more. Even Robbie (Jonah Bobo), Cal and Emily’s 13-year-old son, is not immune from all the romantic complications in the air as he is convinced that he has indeed found his soul mate in the sweet and beautiful Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), a discovery that is fraught with a few complications of its own. A big one is that she is 17 and getting ready to go to college. A bigger one is that she baby-sits for Robbie and his younger sister. The biggest one, though one that Robbie is not yet aware of, is that Jessica has a long-standing crush on Cal dating back to his pre-transformation days and is now more determined than ever to act on those feelings after seeing him be dumped so suddenly by Emily.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love” was written by Dan Fogelman and directed by the team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and to look at their respective filmography, you might wonder how anyone might have thought that they were suitable for a film of this particular type--Fogelman’s credits include contributions to numerous Disney/Pixar projects as well as the ultra-odious Vince Vaughn catastrophe “Fred Claus” while Ficarra and Requa made their bones by writing the screenplay for the genuinely outrageous dark comedy “Bad Santa” and writing and directing the equally audacious (if tragically little-seen) “I Love You, Phillip Morris.” Nevertheless, they both prove to be ingenious choice who help prevent the film from getting mired in the silliness and sap that has doomed so many other romantic comedies in recent years. With its combination of broad comedy and quiet sentiment, Fogelman’s screenplay is the kind of high wire act that could go south in an instant if he wasn’t able maintain a credible balance between the two but he not only manages to keep things moving along for most of its running time and even when he comes up with something that threatens to be a little too precious for its own good--such as the wise-beyond-his-years Robbie--he has the good taste and common sense to throw in a line or two to underline just how unbelievable he really is without destroying the credibility of the character or the story. He even manages to throw a surprise plot development into the mix that seems fairly obvious in hindsight (the clues are there) but which pretty much blindsided me (in a good way) as it unfolded. For their part, Ficarra and Requa once again demonstrate, as they did in “Philip Morris,” a deft ability to handle both the sometimes abrupt shifts in tone and material that sometimes skirts the edge of good taste without letting things go out of control. Admittedly, they do sometimes make the mistake of underlining the emotions of certain scenes by laying on the soundtrack a bit thick but for the most part, this is strong, solid commercial filmmaking that still maintains a quirky independent spirit despite its upscale pedigree.

Of course, a lot of credit for pulling off the shifts in tone rightly deserves to go to the large and uniformly good cast that has been assembled here. Admittedly, Steve Carell is playing to his strengths here in a role that will remind many viewers of his past work in such things as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Dan in Real Life” and even some of the more character-driven episodes of “The Office,” but what his performance may lack in originality is more than made up for by his ability to score in both the big laugh-out-loud moments as well as the more poignant bits--in the hands of most other people, the gardening-at-night stuff would come across as either mawkish or creepy but he manages to make something kind of touching out of it after all. Although the screenplay sometimes loses track of her in its effort to juggle all of its characters, Julianne Moore makes the most of her screen time and brings a subtle but significant dramatic heft to her portrayal of Emily that makes it clear exactly what the stakes are for Cal. As for Ryan Gosling, there is nothing in his past work (ranging from dark dramas like “The Believer” and “Blue Valentine” to soppy silliness like “The Notebook” to unclassifiable works like “Lars and the Real Girl” ) that might have suggested that he had the necessary muscles (beyond the six-pack abs that almost deserve a supporting credit here) to pull off a mainstream romantic comedy but he pretty much knocks it out of the park with a supremely self-confident turn that is alternately appalling, hilarious and strangely touching and the pairing of him with Emma Stone, the new go-to comedy girl of late, proves to be an exceptionally inspired idea as she matches him beat for beat with her sweet and sassy work. Among the others, Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei both get nice bits in smaller parts (the latter has an exceptionally funny scene with Carell in which she finds his heartfelt honesty to be an unexpected turn-on) and Analeigh Tipton is so dead-on perfect and convincing as the babysitter--beautiful enough to serve as anyone’s first crush but gawky and sweet enough to be convincing as an unsure teenager--that when I looked her up on IMDB to see if she had been in anything before, I was gobsmacked--so much so that I used the word “gobsmacked” for perhaps the first time in my professional career--to discover that she is a former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model” and that this is only her second film role to date. I don’t know how she did as a model but based on her work here, she seems to have the stuff to chuck that aside for a full-fledged acting career if she wants.

There are a few problems with “Crazy, Stupid, Love” that keep me from flat-out raving about it. After supplying her with that great opening scene, the screenplay doesn’t really offer Tomei much of anything else to do with her remaining screen time--a real bummer when you consider just how her character could have been developed if it had been worked on a little more. Likewise, Julianne Moore’s character sometimes gets a little lost and forgotten at certain points in the proceedings and she isn’t really given anything funny to do either. The ending is also kind of problematic--without going into too many details, I will say that the film winds up indulging in one of the oldest clichés of the genre without offering a fresh spin on the proceedings and the resolution of the plot thread involving the son and the babysitter, while no doubt meant to be charming, instead comes across as a bit creepy. However, the film gets so many other things right that such missteps are somewhat forgivable by comparison and while they may keep you from totally falling in love with it, you would be both crazy and stupid to miss it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21150&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/29/11 00:00:00
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User Comments

5/06/20 Suzanne I really cared about these characters. 4 stars
12/28/17 morris campbell entertaining & honest 4 stars
7/31/13 Charles Tatum Surprising and entertaining. 4 stars
9/17/12 Eric Stevens Movie should be called 'Lame,Stupid Plot device' go rent a Cary Grant movie instead! 2 stars
3/19/12 Little Pissed Sunshine Gosling's character annoying and his transformation not credible.&buffooned Carell too much 2 stars
3/18/12 Andrea Langst Julianne Moore so unlikeable I hoped she wouldn't take husband back. 2 stars
3/13/12 May Q. Horney Kinda enjoyed it. Glad I didn't notice KevinBacon,now so ruined by Hollywood&Kyra Sedgwick. 3 stars
12/21/11 Isaac An enjoyable ensemble romantic comedy; particularly Carell, Gosling and Stone shine. 4 stars
11/06/11 Sponnie Brilliantly conceived, very very funny 5 stars
10/23/11 Theresa Rezler Id watch it again 4 stars
8/26/11 Jenny Tullwartz Marisa Ptomaine comes out of woodwork every few years, as annoying as ever. 3 stars
8/18/11 Kim Kelly The begining was slow and often too sad but it had charm and some laugh out loud scenes! 3 stars
8/10/11 Jon This was just an average RomCom to me 3 stars
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  29-Jul-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-Nov-2011


  DVD: 01-Nov-2011

Directed by
  Glenn Ficarra
  John Requa

Written by
  Dan Fogelman

  Steve Carell
  Ryan Gosling
  Julianne Moore
  Marisa Tomei
  Emma Stone
  Kevin Bacon

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