CRAZY STUPID LOVE
Armed with an all-star cast, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a romantic comedy from 2011 about a couple going through a separation and the fallout of that as they both try to move on. When a charming womanizer notices husband Cal (Steve Carell) sitting in a bar feeling sorry for himself, he decides to try and help him out.
The film opens with Cal being told by his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) that she wants a divorce and has had an affair with a co-worker (played by Kevin Bacon). They separate and Cal, who is struggling with this new information, moves into a new apartment. He then spends his days going to bars alone, drinking way too much and failing to engage with other people. The resident playboy ladykiller, Jacob (Ryan Gosling), frustrated by how lost and miserable Cal is, takes it upon himself to try and coach him to become a lot less rusty when it comes to asking women out.
This is not unfamiliar territory for Steve Carell as Crazy, Stupid, Love definitely channels the likes of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Dan In Real Life, even Date Night, in terms of his character. That said, the film comes into its own about halfway when it starts throwing us curveballs and giving its characters unexpected emotional challenges. This cleverly culminates in a truly chaotic moment when all the plot threads collide at the same time as everything is revealed to every character in one go. The movie's climax after that fails to live up to this key moment but there's more than enough nifty ideas in Crazy, Stupid, Love to make it worth watching nonetheless.
Characters who initially feel shallow and one dimensional slowly develop into more substantial, fleshed-out people thanks to a sharp script that may not get everything right but cares enough about its characters, and audience, to develop them fully. This is a genuinely funny romantic comedy with an excellent cast that visibly has a great time, especially during the wackier parts. The twist with one of the characters near the end is handled very well but there's a sense throughout that the film is maybe trying a little bit too hard.
A similar twist is attempted earlier and it, frankly, feels a bit unnecessary. As does the whole babysitter subplot with Cal's son which is done well enough but never feels quite right with the rest of the story, as if it simply belongs in a different film. Had the film and its script, which is still quite good regardless, been a bit tighter (the garden stuff is also redundant) we could have had a hilariously crazy, stupid ending with that brawl sequence quickly building up to a genuinely sweet reconciliation instead of the tedious school speech scene. Some of the performances, here and there, are also a bit bigger than they probably should've been for comedic effect but this only translates into mugging at the camera, not so much laughs.
When it comes to mainstream romantic comedies, it's really rare to find something genuinely original and worthwhile. There's the occasional gem but, most of the time, we are looking at either a complete cheese-fest or a boring dud. Crazy, Stupid, Love tries something different and, while it's far from flawless, it manages to feel fresh, get quite a few laughs and provide a good time which makes it a cut above a lot of rom-coms.
Uneven but likeable.