Sunday, July 24, 2011

“Crazy, Stupid, Love” – Movie Review




This weekend, my movie class had a bonus screening of the romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love”, starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon.



After a long-time married man learns his wife wants a divorce, he meets someone who decides to turn him into a womanizer – but when his wife later informs him that she wants him back, will they reunite? 



Married for nearly 25 years, the last thing Cal (Carell) expects is to be told by his wife Emily (Moore) that she’s had an affair with a co-worker (Bacon) and now wants a divorce.  Stunned, Cal immediately moves out and tries to get back on track.  Hanging out at singles bars, he’s so out of practice that he strikes out at every opportunity – until he’s spotted by Jacob (Gosling), a young stud who decides to take Cal under his wing and make Cal his pet project.  Teaming up, Jacob gives Cal a makeover and mentors him on how to talk to and pick up women in a bar with similar aplomb. 

Eventually, Cal hits pay dirt with Kate (Tomei), a schoolteacher he meets at the bar.  This success breeds confidence in Cal and he proceeds to pick-up women at an impressive clip.  Around this time, however, Emily is starting to question her desire for the divorce – not so much because she doesn’t appreciate the attention from the co-worker with whom she’s having the affair, but because she genuinely misses her husband … not to mention the fact that friends and family seem to be turning against her somewhat.  Add to this the fact that Cal & Emily’s adolescent son has a crush on the babysitter who is also experiencing unrequited love for Cal and things are rapidly getting very messy. 

Ultimately, Emily begins to see that the romantic entanglement with her co-worker is becoming increasingly cumbersome both at the office and at home.  However, just when Cal finds out that Emily is considering a reconciliation, it all gets called off when she discovers that he’s turned into something of a lothario.  But can Cal somehow win back his wife by convincing Emily that he’s more interested in being her husband than a swinging single?



While a comedy, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is not really something you would characterize as raucous, ribald or laugh-packed; much of the story has dramatic overtones to it and a good deal of the humor is gentle, understated and spread out.  More mildly amusing than a laugh riot, the funniest scenes come about as a result of some surprising plot twists – one in a big reveal in an uncomfortably awkward scene when Emily and Cal run into one of his spurned, angry conquests and another that concludes the second act in a somewhat farcical tone as all of the different characters and their various subplots converge at a most inopportune moment. 

I would recommend this movie, but with the caveat that you manage your expectations when seeing this romantic comedy – it’s definitely not wall-to-wall gags, but it does have a few genuinely funny moments as described above with more low-key jokes interspersed throughout.  One good thing that the movie has going for it is the fact that the screenwriter managed to combine a number of interesting characters with subplots that are compelling enough to maintain your curiosity about their resolution just as much as you would have for the main story of Cal and Emily.  Some really clever twists and turns occur in crucial plot points as well that will be sure to keep the audience on their toes at all times. 

The majority of the class liked this movie quite a good deal and understandably so, I believe.  Our instructor predicts that this will be a big hit and I would have to agree with him on this one.  I’m a big Marisa Tomei fan and she’s quite funny in the few scenes she has in this movie, but I nevertheless think she was unfortunately and unnecessarily under-utilized here.  If you want some fun, escapist entertainment and have had your fill of Transformers, Harry Potter and Captain America, then this might just be the perfect mid-summer movie for you. 



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