CRAZY, STUPID LOVE (2011)
Starring: Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Directed by: Glen Ficarra and John Requa
Distributed by: Warner Brothers
Initially, this film had won my ticket when the trailer teased that there would be a scene in which Canadian hottie Ryan Gosling walked around without his shirt on. (And trust me ladies, that scene is most definitely worth the price of admission.) But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the film, directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa, co-writers of the criminally underseen I Love you Phillip Morris is so much more then a piece of eye candy. Indeed Crazy, Stupid Love has more depth, honesty and talent then any romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time.
Heartbroken after his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) promptly asks him for a divorce after an affair with co-worker David (Kevin Bacon), middle aged Cal (Steve Carrell) befriends Ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) and tries to rebuild his life. Love in all its forms, and how we deal with love in the 21st century, is at the heart of this story. Long term love, unrequited love, and my favourite kind of movie love – that of the bromantic variety. Love and romance is clearly not a revolutionary concept but in the shallow world of romantic comedy, the approach to it in this film makes it feel fresh and interesting.
So how do the filmmakers give the tired romcom a fresh approach? It comes down to the combination of smart writing and acting. The film brilliantly walks the tightrope of drama and comedy without any moment becoming too melodramatic or too sappy. Steve Carrell is long past his supporting character days and is growing comfortably into leading man status on the big screen. It’s also a pleasure to see him explore material that’s a bit more difficult than his role as Michael Scott. Conversely, Ryan Gosling shines in the lighter scenes and it’s a delight to see him in a film that’s not a complete and utter downer.
While the film is about these men finding love, my favorite scenes in the film are with the two of them. I’ve stated many times in this column that I think Julianne Moore is a brilliant actress and, as always, she’s great here as well, but nothing quite matches up to the sequence where Gosling gives Carrell a metrosexual makeover. Emma Stone is also great in this film as Gosling’s love interest, and is more than just “the girlfriend.” I respect Stone for choosing smart commercial projects (Easy A, Zombieland) and she has another win on her hands with this film. If she continues with this trend she could easily be the next Julia Roberts.
Most of all I respect the honesty in this film. There are no clear bad guys in this story, rather just like in life there are people who make bad decisions. Unlike his character in Picture Perfect, Bacon’s David is not a clear monster. While his character is pretty undeveloped, in truth, David seems like he just might be a good guy for Emily. After all their problems Cal declares that “Emily is his soulmate… but it might not work out.” It might sounds weird, but that line really sums up why I liked this film so much: Just because love doesn’t always work out, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep on trying.