Crazy, Stupid, Love. (called, for the rest of the review, “Crazy Stupid Love,” without any punctuation) is a film that’s smart, funny, sweet, and not on the whole satisfying. For the most part, I had a good time while watching it, but by the end, I felt as if the whole experience could have been avoided. A film like this one is good to watch with other people as a way to pass the time. It provides some solid entertainment while it plays, although isn’t something you need to pay full attention to, and it’s forgettable enough that it won’t occupy the rest of the night. It’s the perfect potato chip, except you will only want to eat one.
I think much of the success of Crazy Stupid Love is because of the stars. Steve Carell is a man who is funny, but here shows his dramatic side. He plays a man named Cal, who is in the process of getting a divorce from Emily (Julianne Moore), who announces she wants one while the couple picks out dessert after a lovely meal. On the way home, Cal jumps out of the moving car, presumably because he no longer wants to go on. He justifies it by saying that he doesn’t want his wife to continue talking.
They get home, and we meet their kids and the babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). She has a crush on Cal, while Cal’s son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), is in love with her. Molly (Joey King), Cal and Emily’s other child, is too young and oblivious, or so we can assume. That love triangle will continue for the majority of the film. After leaving and finding his own place, Cal heads to the bar, where Jacob (Ryan Gosling), noticing that Cal has no clue how to be a ladies’ man, starts instructing him.
Emma Stone also makes an appearance, first by being the woman who first gets hit on by Jacob, and later playing a more prominent role. Marisa Tomei shows up as the first of many lovers that Cal eventually gets, which causes more tension between him and Emily, the beginnings of tension between him and Jessica, and, of course, some trouble in communication between him and his son — especially after all feelings of love are revealed. Right, there’s also Kevin Bacon, playing the man who broke up the marriage.
It all amounts to characters changing, discovering things about themselves that they wouldn’t otherwise have known, and doing several embarrassing and/or heartwarming things. You’d be unsurprised to learn that a speech comes at the end of the film as a last-ditch attempt to win another character’s heart, but, then, it is a romantic comedy. There’s on kind of surprising reveal which throws things for a loop — and gives the final third of the film a much-needed burst of energy — but for the most part, this is a formulaic movie.
It’s also quite funny, charming, smart, and enjoyable up until the last few scenes. It’s then where it finally falls apart, where the contrivances get too much, and where I started to roll my eyes. Once the energy goes out for the second time — the first time being rejuvenated by that character reveal — it depletes fast. The formula comes through, and you start to get bored.
Perhaps that’s because Crazy Stupid Love is just under two hours long, which even for the best of comedies is too long, or perhaps it’s because, even though the film desperately wants to elevate itself above most romantic comedies, it can’t because of the restraints of the genre. It takes a very talented team to completely make you forget that you’re watching a rom-com, and the directing team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, working off a script penned by Dan Fogelman aren’t quite there. They’re close, sure, and for the most part, I did enjoy the film, but I feel like it was more because of the stars, not because of much of the work behind the camera.
Steve Carell isn’t someone I often enjoy. He’s good here, even though he’s not the star. He manages to be funny and dramatic while not drawing attention to himself. It’s not the Steve Carell Show, which is beneficial. It’s more of an ensemble, and without him trying to steal the spotlight, the ensemble works.
It’s Ryan Gosling who draws our eye the most, even and especially in the scenes with Carell. He’s the type of idealized charismatic man that every guy secretly wants to be, and Gosling pulls it off with ease. His scenes with Emma Stone are sweet, and while teaching Carell his secrets, he’s funny. And there’s just enough self-awareness in his performance to make it feel somewhat like a joke — take the scene where he takes his shirt off and a character exclaims something about his body looking like it’s Photoshoped; he just laughs and nods.
Crazy Stupid Love is the type of film that’s satisfying in the moment — funny, sweet, and altogether a good time — but after it’s over, you’ll have nothing more to think about. It’s not a long-lasting film, and you’ll likely feel disappointed as it draws its final breaths. It goes on for too long, running out of steam a good twenty minutes before it concludes. It’s a movie that rests on its star power, and while they’re up to the task, the film won’t stay with you, even though it’s a good thing to put on to pass a couple of hours while waiting to do something more important.