Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Director:  Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Cast:  Steve CarellRyan GoslingJulianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon
Plot:  A father's life unravels while he deals with a marital crisis and tries to manage his relationship with his children.

Genre:  Comedy / Drama / Romance
Awards:  Nom. for 1 Golden Globe - Best Leading Actor (Comedy/Musical)
Runtime:  118min
Rating:  PG for coarse humor, sexual content and language.

For those not in tune with the world of movies, Crazy, Stupid, Love is not the sequel to the Julia Roberts vehicle Eat, Pray, Love (2010), neither is it as appalling.  Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, this surprising hit is one of the year’s better comedy-dramas.  Coincidentally, it is also one of Steve Carell’s best performances in a long time.

Those who expect a side-splitting, laugh-a-minute comedy will be disappointed, but they should be enlightened to discover that the film is so much more than what it seems to be stereotyped as Рa clich̩-ridden comedy about the ups and downs of romance.

Crazy, Stupid, Love stars Carell as Cal, a father of three children, and married to Emily (Julianne Moore).  Cal and Emily are facing a marital crisis, while their 13-year old Robbie (Jonah Bobo) has an obsessive infatuation with his babysitter.  Ryan Gosling plays womanizer Jacob, who observes a sad-looking Cal in a bar and decides to teach him to rediscover his manhood.

Jacob also has one eye on Hannah (Emma Stone), a beautiful girl who falls for him after initially snubbing him.  As you will see, these characters are related to one another at some level, and it makes for an interesting watch to see how situations unfold for them.

And indeed they unfold to a well-written script by Dan Fogelman (Cars, 2006; Tangled, 2010) that is a satisfying balance of wit, humor, and drama.  One of the most emotionally resonating scenes, at least in the context of this film, centers on a graduation speech. Its significance is heightened after what we have seen prior to it – a chaotic, palm-to-forehead confrontation of sorts among all parties that is the film’s only farcical highlight.

The performances are considered outstanding for the genre, and despite some lazy use of dissolve editing in some instances that fill up unnecessary time, the cast is able to engage us for most of its two-hour runtime.

It would be inaccurate to say that Crazy, Stupid, Love is a light-hearted film, because in essence it is quite dense in mood.  You look at Carell’s face and you find yourself looking downcast.  But underneath it all emerges a poignant and redemptive tone unlike other films of this sort.

Short of giving Crazy, Stupid, Love a hearty recommendation, I feel that it is worth a look for any casual moviegoer looking to hit the theaters.  Please be warned about the deceiving PG rating as there is a lot of implicit talk about sex and adolescent infatuation.

GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)

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