Crazy, Stupid, Love.

31 Jan

Title: Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Year: 2011
Directors: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, Analeigh Tipton, John Carroll Lynch
MPAA Rating: PG-13, coarse humor, sexual content and language
Runtime: 118 min
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Metacritic: 68


A whole month after 2011 ended the 2011 movie year ends for me, as Crazy, Stupid, Love. is the last 2011 release I will watch, after this one my rankings close with 256 films released on 2011 having been watched (an improvement over the 210 I saw of 2010). After this I’ll make a few Best of 2011 posts to recap the whole year and then move on with the 2012 reviews and get back to normal. All I know is that 2011 was pretty great for this blog, I started getting a lot of followers, some of them who pitched in with some really nice tips and recommendations, I started a facebook page so that people could get their trailers and reviews in their newsfeed, and the films of the year overall were pretty amazing, but comments about that I’ll leave for those Best of 2011 posts that I talked about. For now, let’s talk about the film at hand, a really terrific film to finish the year on and to cap off the career year Ryan Gosling had.

This seriously is a great film, it has an impeccable cast delivering really strong performances, and it’s just so sweet and funny that you can’t help but fall head over heels with it, it’s actually one of the better films of the whole year. Not to mention that, unlike most romantic comedies, this one actually gets better as it goes along and doesn’t churn out all of its best material at the start of it; something that can be attributed, surely, to this one being an actually adult romantic comedy, with an actual story and an actual heart, and people all across the board doing their best to make this material work, and boy do they succeed.

As I said 2011 was the year of Ryan Gosling, or at the very least one he shares with Michael Fassbender and Jessica Chastain, what with performances in a trio of seriously incredible films with this one, Drive (an A+ and the fourth best film of the year for me) as well as The Ides of March (an A and the eighteenth best film of the year). In this one Mr. Gosling plays Jacob Palmer, the impeccably-dressed and charming ladies man that takes on a man a decade older than he, Steve Carell’s Cal, as his protégé, decided to show him the ropes of the world again, to getting his game back after Cal has been cheated on and asked for a divorce from his wife Emily, played by the great Julianne Moore who in my opinion got too little screen-time here.

It’s the great charm of both Mr. Gosling and Mr. Carell and the great rapport that quickly develops between the two that makes Crazy, Stupid, Love. such huge fun to watch, so funny and sharp. Everything about this film is seriously spot-on, it’s equal parts hilarious, sexy, smart and, most importantly, it’s also quite true, everything about this film rings honest and wise, not like the kooky rom-com’s of today, which must have been what attracted such a dream cast to the project. Because Mr. Gosling is not a guy known for romantic comedies, and Mr. Carell is always great when it comes to choosing projects (Evan Almighty not withstanding) and there’s also Julianne Moore and Emma Stone, the two most talented and likable redheads in the business, as well as Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei, two seriously talented veterans who are always welcome on my screen. And then there’s the newbie of the cast, Analeigh Tipton, who was on a cycle of America’s Next Top Model not that long ago, and who here stars as a babysitter and really proved she has some actual acting and comedic chops, and I honestly can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.

I just loved this, I loved how it managed to be really funny while still being actually serious, and acknowledging the rather dark current of emotions that set this whole story into motion and shape Cal’s story. It has a lot of confusion and awkwardness, it has a bromance and it may get you to shed a tear or two along the way. Not to mention that, along all of the great things it has, there are also a lot of things it doesn’t have; it’s not raunchy, it’s not overly sarcastic and if there’s cynicism it’s not seen as an agreeable trait. By which I mean, even though this one does play by a certain playbook of the genre, it’s not like the R-rated snark-fests we are used to nowadays; it’s something fresh, it’s something better.

This was also Steve Carell’s first post-Office film, and what a great role it is. There’s not a hint of Michael Scott in Cal Weaver, he’s just an everyman with a nice job and a nice house and a nice family who has to deal with having a good chunk of that seemingly falling apart. It’s a shocker when Emily tells him she wants a divorce when he asks what she wants for dessert, and it’s a shocker to see how badly dressed and out of tune he is at the cocktail lounge where he meets Jacob. Their bromance will include everything you’d expect it to, with the tips in how to leave the bar with the girl of your choice in your arms, to the required makeover montage (which is actually funny in this film), but it will also include quite a bit of heart, and the relationship between Jacob and Cal really fleshes out tremendously thanks to the actors in charge of playing them.

It’s great that this film knows to be patient, it knows that taking its time and letting the story sink in and being witty can be much better than just going forward and forward, ignoring loose ends and churning out loud and racy jokes that don’t add up to much. Cal wants to get even with Emily, who cheated on him with the character Kevin Bacon plays, and wants to do so by scoring with every woman he can, which includes most prominently the character of Marisa Tomei who, at 47, still has one of the most beautiful smiles in Hollywood. But there’s also Cal’s son, Rob, who has a crush on his babysitter, played remarkably by Ms. Tipton, who in turn has a bit of a crush herself on Cal. And then there’s what happens to Jacob himself, the lady killer who meets Emma Stone’s Hannah one night at the bar and, unexpectedly, falls in love with her.

How the film manages to find such a sublime balance between the required scenes to establish what’s needed, as well as start deploying a few things to be unraveled at the end in a bit of a shocker moment, and the more adult serious stuff that these types of films are too shy to even slightly approach, is terrific. Because, even though this does get sweet and there indeed are a couple of sappy conversation moments, it also acknowledges that there are limitations to love, and it crafts characters that are really believable. It’s these characters that make us love this movie, they are allowed to feel and to grow throughout the two hours this film runs, and the great group of actors in charge of playing them are sheer perfection.

Grade: A


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