Warner Bros. // 2011 // 118 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // November 1st, 2011
This is love.
"I'm here to help you rediscover your manhood. Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?"
Cal (Steve Carell, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Emily (Julianne Moore, The Big Lebowski) got married when they were both seventeen. Now they have entered middle age, and Emily has announced that she wants a divorce. Cal is terribly upset by this news; he's nearly driven mad when he learns that she's been sleeping with her co-worker (Kevin Bacon, X-Men: First Class). Cal begins to sink into a depression, but is rescued by an empathetic ladies' man named Jacob (Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl), who offers to teach Cal the ancient art of picking up women in bars. Meanwhile, Cal's 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo, Zathura) finally works up the nerve to confess his love for his 17-year-old babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton, The Green Hornet).
Ah, but this is only the beginning of a merry-go-round of romance and confusion. Soon, Cal will have surprising success while attempting to chat up the attractive Kate (Marisa Tomei, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), Jessica will begin to nurse a crush for Cal, and Jacob will encounter a young woman named Hannah (Emma Stone, Easy A) who just might curb his womanizing ways.
Crazy, Stupid Love is a warm, entertaining, sweet-natured romantic comedy built around likable characters. Mundane as that may sound, it's actually quite an achievement in an era when the vast majority of romantic comedies are shallow, tedious, gratingly obnoxious affairs centered around exasperatingly dimwitted characters. We ought to be getting a movie like this at least once a month; instead we're lucky if we get one or two a year. It's the sophomore effort of directing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who previously delivered a similarly entertaining (though substantially different) romantic comedy with the agreeably loopy Jim Carrey flick I Love You, Philip Morris. Much like that film, Crazy, Stupid Love finds an appealing balance between goofy comedy and surprising moments of depth, though their efforts feel a little more assured this time around.
I've written on numerous occasions of my endless frustration with the world's most exasperating rom-com cliche: the dumb misunderstanding that leads to a dumb breakup. That scene occurs in this film, but Ficarra and Requa (working from a witty script by Dan Fogelman, best known for penning the animated flicks Bolt and Tangled) prevent it from feeling like a conventional inevitability with their imaginative staging. In a virtuoso sequence of physical and verbal comedy, the film sends all of the movie's disparate subplots crashing headfirst into each other, and the fireworks which ensue are a marvel to behold. It's enough fun to carry us through the inevitable scenes of moping and soul-searching which follow (and fortunately begin to dissipate rather quickly).
This is most assuredly an ensemble piece, but Carell is more or less the lead in terms of screen time (and arguably star power, though Stone and Gosling are nipping at his heels). He continues to demonstrate that he is cinema's premier go-to actor when it comes to creating comic portraits of the endless frustrations of impossibly square middle-aged men. He's a lot of fun to watch in his uncomfortable attempts at being a swinger; there's a hilarious scene in which he transforms words which sound so smooth coming from Gosling into something terrifyingly creepy.
Good as Carell is, his performance isn't the best thing about the film. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone demonstrate the kind of dazzling chemistry which ad campaigns so unconvincingly attempt to inform us Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl have. Their prolonged sequence of nighttime flirtation (as Stone giddily disassembles Gosling's patented seduction routine even as she is being seduced) is joyously entertaining. Their mutual attraction is kind of infectious (or nauseous, if you're having that kind of day/week/life), as Gosling's sleazy gaze suddenly turns into lovestruck yearning and Stone's desires inspire her to run over and bite Gosling's shoulder. Gosling and Stone are so appealing, they make the alternate prospects of dating (in Gosling's case) an endless parade of young models or (in Stone's case) Josh Groban seem remarkably dull in contrast. The other actors fare reasonably well (except Marisa Tomei, whose role is too small and too broad), but these two are the primary reason Crazy, Stupid Love occasionally moves from "likable" to "wonderful."
Crazy, Stupid Love (Blu-ray) offers a solid 1080p/2.40:1 transfer which does a nice job of preserving the film's atypical palette. What do I mean by "atypical"? Most romantic comedies are visually bright and colorful to the point of being eyesores, but this one is dominated by dimly-lit scenes and subdued colors. It runs much closer to Blue Valentine than Fool's Gold, if you know what I mean. Detail is respectable, though the image is on the soft side at times. There's a slightly heavy measure of noise present at times, but it doesn't get too distracting. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track gets the job done nicely, though don't expect anything groundbreaking from this film's soundtrack (it's almost exactly what you'd expect -- a dialogue driven track with minimal sound design which features a steady supply of pleasant indie-but-not-too-indie pop). Supplements are very thin: two disposable featurette ("Steve and Ryan Walk Into a Bar" and "The Player Meets His Match"), some deleted scenes and a digital copy.
Crazy, Stupid Love is one of this year's strongest lightweight date night flicks, a movie that manages to provide some laughs and some affecting romance featuring characters who feel like real human beings. Isn't that what a romantic comedy should be? The Blu-ray is decent, though the thin supplements are a disappointment.
Review content copyright © 2011 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Digital Copy
* DVD Copy