Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Image: Warner Bros.

Ryan Gosling’s everywhere at the moment. With this, Drive, and George Clooney’s upcoming political drama The Ides of March, the actor is inescapable. Of the three, you’d be forgiven for assuming that this rom-com would be the weak link.

Cal (Steve Carell) is reeling after his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) asks for a divorce. While drowning his sorrows in a local bar, local stud Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on him. With a new look and newfound confidence, Cal becomes something of a ladies’ man. But he’s still in love with Emily, and Jacob finds himself in a similar situation when he meets the beautiful Hannah (Emma Stone).

Maybe the acting talent involved in this film should have been a tip-off. While Carell’s made some bad choices (Get Smart, Dinner for Schmucks), the quality of the cast extends from those we’ve mentioned to superb actors like Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei who pop up in small roles. While Crazy, Stupid, Love doesn’t exactly buck the rom-com/drama formula, the script is good as are the performances. Cal and Emily’s post-break-up relationship is believably painful and difficult as they both struggle to decide what it is that they actually want. Carell’s an old-hand at playing awkward men discovering their confidence (though some scenes are a little too reminiscent of The 40-Year Old Virgin) and he’s also excellent in the more dramatic scenes, of which there are surprisingly plenty. Moore is given fewer chances to be funny but she’s just as good as you’d expect her to be.

While the bulk of the film is given to Carell and Moore, Gosling also gets a chance to show off his comedy chops. He’s not really stretching himself here but he’s very watchable both in his scenes with Carell and especially in his sweetly stilted seduction scene with Stone, who is also great despite having the least to do of the four leads. There’s also a sub-plot involving Cal’s 13-year old son Robbie’s crush on his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who in turn has a crush on Cal, that works best when the filmmakers acknowledge its creepiness.

While it’s not a game-changer, Crazy, Stupid, Love stands head and shoulders above most Hollywood films in the same genre. It would have been better had it strayed a little further from the formula guidelines, but it’s got some big laughs, it’s genuinely touching in places, and overall it’s good enough that by the overly-romanticised ending you’ve still got a smile on your face.

Verdict: Good performances from a wonderful cast and a solid script help to make this a surprisingly funny, warm comedy.

3.5/5

JH

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