Directed by the creative duo that brought us the balls-out funny film I Love You Phillip Morris from last year, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa make another hilarious, sometimes wicked comedy full of heart. Crazy, Stupid, Love features a parade of different relationships, some inappropriate, but manages to make each vivid and distinct while packing the best moments in the central story around Steve Carell and Julianne Moore’s characters.
Moore and Carell play Cal and Emily, high school sweethearts that married, had kids, and find themselves distant strangers. Emily wants a divorce and Cal quickly and quietly acquiesces. Cal gets taken in by Jacob (Ryan Gosling) a smooth cad who gives this sad sack a new wardrobe and tutorial on how to pick up women. Bumbling at first, Cal becomes quite the ladies man to the shock of Emily. Meanwhile, Emily is being courted by David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon STILL HOT), a sweet accountant at her job that she had a one-night stand with before asking Cal for the divorce.
Also there’s young Robbie (Jonah Bobo) the son of Emily and Cal who loves his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) who actually has a crush on Cal- must have been watching The World According to Garp to many times. Cal has no idea about this, but word of his dalliances encourage young Jessica to make a bold move. Meanwhile, Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone) and unsuccessfully tries to pick her up at a bar. Later in the film, Hannah dumps her boyfriend and takes Jacob up on his original offer. They start dating and Jacob abandons his playboy ways, but seeks help from Cal on how to be the good dependable guy he originally objected to in Cal.
All these romantic entanglements are a set up for a pleasing comedy of errors when all the love flying around begins to collide in some unexpected ways. Yet the key relationship manages to be Moore and Carell’s. The ending stretch of the film rightly focuses in on them, tying things up in a heartwarming and believable final scene. Carell is excellent here as a romantic lead. Like in Dan in Real Life, a movie I love, Carell has our sympathies no matter if he’s being sweet or alienating all the other characters. Cal’s flaw, similar to Dan, is his self-righteousness that comes out in lectures to other characters while he breaks his own rules. With Carell there an enduring goodness that keeps the character from drowning.
Julianne Moore is superb in a tricky role. She starts the film as the person we might hate for cheating on Cal, yet Moore wins us as well pushing Cal to participate in their relationship. We see Emily through Cal’s eyes and hope these two can come together. Gosling proves that he can look hot doing just about anything and gives a convincing performance as a lonely cad who changes for the right girl. Kevin Bacon’s David gets painted by Cal as a seducer, but turns out to be a sweetheart that we secretly want Emily to give a shot. Emma Stone isn’t in the film enough unfortunately, but is hilarious and cute when she appears. Other side players, Marisa Tomei as a lusty and vengeful middle school teacher and John Carroll Lynch as Jessica’s dad deliver great laughs and offer full characters even though their scenes mainly drive the plot. Even Josh Groban is good as Hannah’s clueless douche boyfriend.
Crazy Stupid Love rises above schlocky romantic comedy fare because amid the chaos, Ficarra and Requa focus on the central couple. Multi plotted stories like He’s Just Not That Into You fall flat for having too many stories with none being fully developed. I left the theater feeling like I knew Emily and Cal, like new friends from a great dinner party. Also, Ficarra and Requa have a rare talent of balancing wicked humor with sweetness. Aside from Emily and Cal, every other character’s romantic pursuit sways to the inappropriate sphere, yet I felt like each person was well intentioned and not too creepy. When you find yourself rooting for a 13-year-old kid winning the heart (someday) of his 17-year-old baby sitter you know you are in the hands of a master.
It’s an embarrassment of riches at the cineplex for July 4th weekends. With agonizing temparatures ahead, why not spend it in the blissfull air conditioning of the theater. I still need to see “Brave” and possibly “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter,” but I will be seeing most of these films in the next week and a half. Since the holiday is in the middle of the week, you have two weekends of movies to enjoy.
“Your Sister’s Sister”
Love this film starring Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie Dewitt. It’s funny with unexpected twists that both wrench and warm your heart.
“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”
Charming, hilarious, and quite devastating at the end, “Seeking” showcases Steve Carell wonderful range (like in “Dan in Real Life) and also let Keira Knightly shine sans corset-period dress. The soundtrack is also lovely.
A must see of the year. Following two troubled kids on a journey to discover what they could be with someone who loves them. Music, performances, costumes, everything is beautiful.
Seeing this TONIGHT. So excited. It’s getting decent reviews as well. In Soderbergh I trust.
“The Invisible War”
A new documentary about sexual assault in the military. The DOD figures that over 22,000 service women and men were raped last year. The film as already had an effect, making it possible for survivors to report rape to superior officers. Director Kirby Dick also made “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” and “Outrage”- two excellent films that dig into institutional secrecy, corruption, and hypocrisy.
“To Rome With Love”
When I was in Rome with my fellow Ignatian Educators, I knew that Woody Allen would be there soon after to film his latest starring Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, and Ellen Page. It will be fun to go back to Rome with Woody Allen.
This film is like the really raunchy version of “The Velveteen Rabbit” and I can’t help wanting to check it out. Also, Mark Walberg and Mila Kunis are two actors I enjoy.
“Beasts of Southern Wild”
Everyone is loving this film so I’m going to see if I love it too.
“The Amazing Spider-Man”
Even though I wish this movie DID NOT EXIST, I may still see it. I’m a fan of almost every person in it and I adore the “Spider-Man” universe. But I miss Raimi and Maguire intensely.
Yeah. Oliver Stone. Drug trade. Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek going sinister. Totally seeing this.
“Take This Waltz”
Directed by Sarah Polley and starring Michelle Williams, I have been very excited to see this drama about a woman struggling in her happy marriage with feelings for another man. I think it’s available on VOD, but will be playing in Chicago on the 6th.