Crazy, Stupid, Love.

a film by
Glenn Ficarra & John Requa

When you name your film Crazy, Stupid, Love., you better hope that it is good, because if it is not you are going to have a lot of critics popping up with lines such as "Crazy, Stupid Movie" or "It's crazy and it's stupid, but who could love it". Luckily for the filmmaking duo of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who gave us last year's gay prison story, rom-com farce I Love You Phillip Morris, their second directorial effort is actually quite funny indeed. One could even say, "You would have to be crazy and/or stupid not to love this movie". One could say that.

Convoluted as it is (in many ways this film is rife in the screwball tradition of Hawks and Sturges), I will attempt a quick bare-bones plot synopsis. Steve Carrell is Cal who as the opening credits end finds out his wife Emily, played by Julianne Moore, wants a divorce. Meanwhile Cal and Emily's thirteen year old son is madly in love with his seventeen year old babysitter, who in turn is, unbeknownst to him, in love with Cal. Shortly thereafter, the middle-class Cal meets the smooth ladies man Jacob, played inspiredly by a very buff Ryan Gosling, and is transformed into a sexy, woman-hungry ladies man all his own. But again meanwhile, Jacob has fallen for sultry Hannah, played by the husky-voiced knock-out Emma Stone. I will stop there as there are many more plot twists and turns to be had and one should have these as fresh cinematic surprises.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (and yes, the period is part of the title) may very well be the best damn romantic comedy out this year, and that is mainly due to the way this cast plays off of each other. Also including Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei who do with their small roles as much as they can (both are actually quite funny during their brief time on screen), this cast doesn't seem so much like their acting as they are just hanging out. The movie, its title telling us as much, may be crazy (again, screwball tradition) but the characters seem real and therefore make the comedy work all that much better. The film plays cute, but it plays real as well. The interactions between Carrell and Gosling as the younger trying to teach the older how to pick up women is classic comedy while many of the more touching moments between the estranged Carrell and Moore are laced with a decidedly bittersweet taste.

The real surprise here though is just how funny Ryan Gosling can be. Already more than proven as a dramatic actor it came as somewhat of a shock to see just how deft at comedy the thirty year old is. We already knew that Carrell can be funny (his greatest comic attribute is being hilariously deadpan) and Emma Stone can rightly be compared to the likes of Lucille Ball and Gilda Radner without even the slightest questioning blink of an eye, but who knew that Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl aside (he mainly plays straight man to his own antics in that film), had such natural comic timing hidden in there somewhere. In the end though, even with its sense of cliche, it is the whole of this cast that makes this film work. The story is a wry work of comedy but not every actor could pull it off. We get lucky with this particular cast. [08/03/11]