When we’re young, no one gives us an owner’s manual or instruction booklet on how to fall in love and when we do, what in the hell we’re supposed to do about it. Most people are raised watching movies in which, in the final scene, the man and the woman finally overcome their differences/mistakes/lies and run into one another’s arms as the music swells. Fade out. But what happens after that? Movies never tell us how to handle the rest of it. Crazy, Stupid, Love. shows us what it could be like and the many challenges that may pop up along the way.
The movie opens with Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) out at a nice dinner. Emily informs Cal she wants a divorce and his reaction is rather unexpected: nothing. He does not yell or shout, even when she says that she cheated with a co-worker. He simply accepts the reality of the situation and moves out of the house.
Skip ahead to Cal attempting the singles’ scene in Los Angeles at a swanky bar that is way too hip and expensive for him. He meets a cocky, good-looking philanderer named Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who leaves each night with a different girl. Cal is amazed by his skill and confidence, but is floored when Jacob offers to help him learn to be less….well, himself. Jacob takes Cal shopping, has him eavesdrop on his interactions with the ladies and eventually we realize that he’s been Mr. Miyagi-ing Cal this whole time, getting him ready to talk to a woman on his own.
Jacob, in the meantime, meets Hannah (Emma Stone), a law school student who is immune to his charms and actually resists his attempts. After Hannah loses her boyfriend, though, the two begin a relationship, but having never been in one before, Jacob must turn to Cal for advice on how to behave.
What works so well in the film are the perfectly cast characters and honest script. Gosling and Stone are wonderful on screen together and watching their different acting styles (Gosling’s is intense, Stone’s seems effortless) is like watching a beautiful pair of ballet dancers. Fans of Gosling’s very serious work will be happy to finally see him giving a comedic performance, at which he succeeds immensely. (Note: some people will argue that Lars and the Real Girl was a comedy, which is true, but Gosling’s performance was deadly serious which is why it was so funny.) Stone is always terrific, and here she just shows the audience again why she is one of the most talented comedic actors working today.
Directors Glen Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You, Phillip Morris) and screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Cars, Tangled) have crafted a film about the reality of love and relationships that doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of being an adult. We can feel that Carell and Moore once had a beautiful marriage, but that things became less exciting as the years go by. What Cal discovers is that you can never stop fighting, a lesson he learns from his 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who is in painfully in love with his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh
Crazy, Stupid, Love. is not without a few flaws, but these almost don’t matter because the rest of the film is so enjoyable. Ficarra and Requa, at times, resort to simple Apatowesque jokes just for laughs, which is unnecessary because the actors and script are already hilarious. The film is honest, real and extremely funny. It is not a chick flick, by any stretch, because everyone will find something that they can connect with.
This film runs 118 minutes and is rated PG-13.