Why is this movie called Crazy, Stupid, Love? It wasn’t really so crazy for Steve Carrell’s character to want to reinvent himself after his wife (played by Julianne Moore) ended their marriage. It wasn’t stupid for Ryan Gosling’s stylish womanizer to fall in love with the ever-charming Emma Stone. And frankly, it wasn’t love when the 13-year-old son of Carrell’s character continually professed that his 17 year old baby-sitter was his soulmate. The title is just trying to be clever, slick, whatever. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this smart, little multi-generational rom-com (at least until the last quarter when it descended into farce and Carrell let some of The Office’s Michael Scott show through.)
After Moore’s character Emily admits to having cheated on Carrell’s Cal (with Kevin Bacon, no less), she asks him for a divorce. His response is to drop out of a moving car (I guess that’s pretty stupid). His emotional recovery (aka wallowing) leads him to an elegant local bar, which happens to be the hunting ground of Gosling’s character, Jacob. Having honed his look, his moves into an art form, he decides to help out poor old Cal. It’s not quite Rodeo Drive, and Cal’s no Julia Roberts, but Jacob does a pretty good Richard Gere and he is not only able to transform Cal into a sharp dressed man, he is also able to “Miyagi” Cal (that’s a Karate Kid ref in case you missed it) into a confident ladies man himself.
Not only was the evolution of Cal quite fun, it was great to see the bond of friendship form between such an unlikely pair. The dialogue is well-written and it seems to come so naturally to Carrell (without the cartoonish quality of some of his other roles). Gosling is convincing as well, except his accent is a bit odd and it comes and goes a bit (a little distracting for me).
On the side, characters such as Emma Stone’s Hannah and teen actors Jonah Bobo and Analeigh Tipton also enjoy some nicely-realised story arcs. In that respect, this is almost an anthology movie rather than just the story of two couples. Even Oscar-winner Marissa Tomei is back (looking as good as ever) for a small but hilarious role (the comedy is not broad, thank God, but I haven’t laughed so loud in the theatre for a long time).
Unfortunately, the last quarter takes a turn for the worse. It seemed almost like the filmmakers just want to tie things up with an over-the-top, goofy bow. All the story arcs converge in a silly coincidence of timing, revealed identities, and gross misunderstanding. Wacky violence also ensues (feel free to roll your eyes). After that, there are even scenes where Michael, I mean Cal, gets up to make an embarrassingly personal speech at his kid’s graduation (fortunate that such an opportunity was available for wrap-up speeches, eh?) Despite all the cheap Hollywood machinations, the movie ends trying to be open-ended and “complex” but it’s too little too late. If I had made this film, I would have worked to make the ending reflect the growth these characters have experienced and the real relationships that they share. Given the quality of the rest of the movie, I’d be willing to bet that there’s a better ending in screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s recycle bin somewhere. Crazy producers. Stupid directors. (4 out of 5)