Romance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in this
rom-com with a difference.
aren’t what they used to be. Long
gone are the days of When Harry Met
Sally (1989) or even the screwball fun of Bringing Up Baby (1938) and Some
Like It Hot (1959). These days
we are inundated with ensemble cast monstrosities that put warm fuzzy greeting
card sentimentality over laughs and genuine heart. We’re looking at you Valentine’s
Day (2010), New Year’s Eve (2011)
and He’s Just Not That Into You (2009). These are paint by numbers
rom-coms. They’re formulaic to the
point of tedium. Thank the filmic
gods then for last year’s Crazy Stupid Love for daring to be different. For starters here is a film about love,
the clues in the title, which opens with a wife announcing to her husband she
wants a divorce. Perhaps not what
you’d expect, but it sets up a wonderful premise about the concept of love and
how more often than not the reality rarely lives up to the fairy tale.
Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) has just found out that
his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) has
had an affair and wants a divorce.
He’s at his wits end and while oblivious to babysitter Jessica’s (Analeigh Tipton) advances, goes to
drown his sorrows in a local bar.
There he meets Jacob (Ryan
Gosling) a veritable ladies man who takes Cal under his wing to teach him
how to take a different woman home each night. The problem arises when Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone) a girl who sees through
Jacob and turns him into a mushy man in love. With Cal lost at sea and his son Robbie’s (Jonah Bobo) ever growing infatuation
with Jessica it seems that love might just get the better of all involved.
appealing thing about Crazy Stupid Love, outside of its wonderful cast, is that
is never feels clichéd or predictable.
Love in this context is indeed crazy and stupid, it makes no sense and
often leaves the characters hurting.
Not everyone here will get that happy ending or manage to woo the girl
by making a customary run to the airport.
No, here love does not conquer all, if anything it obliterates and
destroys. This is not to imply the
film is a dour experience, far from it.
Crazy Stupid Love pokes fun at the genre conventions, right down to
Jacob’s seduction technique of paying homage to Dirty Dancing (1987), knowing full well that it is every girl’s
film plays with the concept of movie romance. The idea that you can find that special someone and live
happily ever after, the kind of romantic dalliance we all long for, is in fact
fictional, made up by Hollywood and Hallmark. This is about love with warts and all. Cal, despite being ‘cuckolded’, a word
he finds all to fascinating, still loves his wife and if anything comes to
realise that he is to blame for the failed marriage. Jacob meanwhile has endless lines of women just waiting to
sleep with him, yet is lonely enough to want to take on Cal’s issues as a
project in distraction. The only
character who seems to have love sussed is Cal’s son Robbie but he’s getting
hurt more than anyone as his love is not returned.
What makes the
film come to life is the acting talent on display. Carell is always at his best when playing the put upon mope
and brings that warmth he always finds in every performance. He is the thinking person’s comedic
actor, never letting the comedy get in the way of the character he
inhabits. Julianne Moore is always
brilliant and does a great job of a woman on the edge of her hormone
levels. Emma Stone, easily looking
every bit Moore’s younger sister in both appearance and sheer acting talent,
has fast become one of those screen presences to force you to the cinema. However, once again it is that man
Gosling who steals the show. Drive
may have shot him to super stardom last year but it here we get to see a more
jovial side to the best actor of his generation. Like Steve McQueen, another actor renowned for his coolness
personified, Gosling has that innate ability to always command the screen, your
attention is drawn to him through the little things he does when other actors
would simply wait for their next line. He’s done quirky before, in the much under-seen Lars And The Real Girl (2007), but here
he brings a genuine talent for comedic timing and easily takes home the biggest
laughs of the film. Indeed the
chemistry between Gosling and Carell is enough in itself to arguably lead to a
sequel to the film.
The film is
perhaps fractionally long, and towards the end slightly wanes, but thanks to
some sharp dialogue, fun characters and a five star menu of Hollywood’s leading
talent Crazy Stupid Love is a film that should be watched as both a heartfelt
and an honest reality check to all those other pretenders to romance. Roll on Valentine’s Day because this
film might be the reality check all those singletons out there need.