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Lovely, Murderously Funny, and Definitely Crazy


Movie Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Summary: A man’s life falls apart when his wife asks for a divorce.
Spoilers: none

Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone star in Crazy, Stupid, Love, a Comedy-Drama-Romance with a little more to offer than many in its genre.

When “Cal” (Carell) is told by wife “Emily” (Moore) that she wants a divorce, his life begins to unravel. Burying his despair at a local bar, he meets womanizing sex machine, “Jacob” (played very charismatically by Ryan Gosling) who teaches Cal how to get into the singles game of “nailing” women in exploitative, relationship-free one-night-stands.

Meanwhile, Cal’s oldest daughter, “Hannah” (Stone) has a falling-out with lawyer boyfriend “Richard” (Josh Groban) and clicks with an unlikely stranger that dad would not approve of.

With top-notch supporting performances by Marisa Tomei, John Carroll Lynch, and Kevin Bacon, Crazy, Stupid, Love is the kind of movie that puts all its eggs in the basket of being outrageously funny as a film that tries – and succeeds – at being unique in its mold.

With mostly steady pacing and even levels of drama to successfully give it a broad range of emotional impact, the film goes much further than many raunchy rom-coms. The central strength of the movie – and one that sets it apart from dirty, risqué flicks that do nothing but capitalize on easy sex and bargain bin humor – is its focus on the lives of the characters.

It’s all about the people behind their names as Cal’s and Emily’s son, “Robbie” (Jonah Bobo) has a crush on their babysitter, “Jessica” (Analeigh Tipton). One of Cal’s flings is with “Kate” (Tomei) whose insecurities are brought to the surface as she continually runs into men who won’t call her back after sexual encounters. Kevin Bacon is “David,” Emily’s new guy who steals her heart, but whose advances are resisted by her children in an effort to keep the family together.

Though there’s plenty of it to go around, we don’t just get a helping of marginally raunchy content and desperate, sex-crazed behavior. We get to see the toll that bad, impulsive decisions make and the results of the crazy things love makes us do. The film’s insistence that behind every out-of-control sexual impulse is a need for something more is a thing not often found in the dry well of self-serving behavior as portrayed by cheap Hollywood romantic comedies.

While at first feeling like two movies crammed into one, the film smoothes out with a more focused story with some fine messages in its writing, which utilize a story that leaves impressions on the audience exactly as intended—but without setting too high a bar for itself, or becoming the standard to which all other comedies must measure. The film is entertaining, shocking, and certainly funny, and that wraps it up tightly as an all-round success, despite a congested script that could have used some trimming in some places.

3 stars for the cluttered, but convincing (and in some regards, exceptional), Crazy, Stupid, Love.

(JH)

Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: PG-13 (for course sexual content and language)
Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Starring: “Cal” (Steve Carell), “Jacob” (Ryan Gosling), “Emily” (Julianne Moore), “Hannah” (Emma Stone), “Jessica” (Analeigh Tipton), “Robbie” (Jonah Bobo), “Molly” (Joey King), “Kate” (Marisa Tomei), “Claire” (Beth Littleford), “Bernie” (John Carroll Lynch), “David Lindhagen” (Kevin Bacon)
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance
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