Directors: Glen Ficarra, John Requa
Stars: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore
Plot: A middle-aged man gets a shock when his wife asks for a divorce. He then starts dating again for the first time in years, with help from his new friend.
Here’s an interesting thought. What if you had been married for a number of years, had a few kids and settled down in your career but then your other half suddenly declares that they wanted a divorce? Such a shock to the system would also include the realisation that you would eventually be obliged to date again, but where would you start? This is the situation facing the main protagonist of Crazy, Stupid, Love, whose life has been turned upside down by his wife’s out-of-the-blue bombshell.
Steve Carell is Cal Weaver, a man who is about to have a mid-life crisis of epic proportions. His wife Emily (Moore) reveals that she had an affair with work colleague David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) and wants to end their marriage. Cal moves out of the family home that he also shares with his son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) and Molly (Joey King) into his own apartment. Meanwhile, lothario Jacob Palmer (Gosling), regularly chats up women in his local bar, notching up a whole host of one-night stands. However he fails to lure Hannah (Emma Stone) into bed, something which he finds particularly inexplicable. Jacob notices Cal sitting at the bar bemoaning his recent poor luck to any woman who’ll listen to him for more than five minutes and decides to help him to rediscover his touch with women.
As Cal and Jacob’s friendship develops, so does Cal’s ability to pull women after initially falling flat. He chooses one in particular, Kate (Marisa Tomei) who he persuades to take back to his apartment for the night. more women follow, but Cal just can’t seem to get over the break-up of his relationship with Emily. Hannah is revealed to be a law student who, after passing her bar exam, dumps her boyfriend Richard (Josh Groban) after he insensitively fails to propose marriage to her. She encounters Jacob once again on purpose, with the intention of having sex, but they end up going back to Jacob’s for an all-night chat about each other. Robbie develops a massive crush on his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), but after a series of misunderstandings we learn that Jessica actually has a crush herself on Cal. As Cal’s brief fling with Kate is discovered by Emily in one of the most embarrassing ways possible, the interconnecting acquaintances and relationships have much more in common than we first thought.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is an entertaining comedy drama, which has more of a hint of Hitch (2005) about it. Jacob teaching Cal the ways of wooing the opposite sex treads on the same ground that Will Smith’s Alex Hitchens and the Albert Brennaman of Kevin James previously graced. The difference here is that there are many more layers to the storyline than just Cal getting his mojo back. With more a sense of drama with large dollops of comedy dropped in, screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s take on a man’s recovery from his own ‘relationshipwreck’ is just one of the amusing plot strands. Jacob and Hannah’s subplot is dealt with in a more original way – instead of having the usual one-night stand followed by an awkward morning-after conversation, this is reversed, so that the initial clumsiness is followed by a genuine and believable friendship that becomes something more afterwards.
Steve Carell plays Cal in a similar manner to his Andy in 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), but with a more morose tone which fits in with the mood of the film. Even though his signature character trait is to shout random outbursts, here he is more restrained and this is perhaps his best role for quite a while. Ryan Gosling is very well-suited to his character Jacob – although be assured that he is not just a token addition to the cast to appeal to the female audience. Julianne Moore plays the largely serious Emily to Carell’s lighter Cal well and it’s also great to see Emma Stone doing something other than the quirky high-school character she has made her own. Also of note is Marisa Tomei in yet another terrific yet small role – on this evidence, she has still got ‘it’.
Crazy, Stupid, Love has its moments, but isn’t particularly memorable. A nicely balanced two-thirds of a film with a great cast proves not to be quite enough though. The plot twist towards the end will provoke a few laughs, but the graduation speech-inspired ending is a little too cutesy and clichéd to be taken seriously. Otherwise this is a wise choice if you want a decent storyline with a few chuckles or maybe you just feel the need to ogle Ryan Gosling’s ridiculous torso.