When Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is told by his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), that she wants a divorce, his life is thrown into upheaval. He finds himself over 40, and single, drowning his sorrows at a bar where everyone gets to hear about his woes, whether they want to or not. Handsome charmer and womanizer, Jacob (Ryan Gosling), finally takes Cal under his wing, giving him a makeover and helping him find the confidence to jump back into the dating pool and be the kind of man he should have been for his wife. Meanwhile, Jacob is in for a life-changing moment himself when he meets Hannah (Emma Stone), a beautiful soon-to-be lawyer who seems to be the only woman who doesn’t fall for his smooth pick up lines.
Crazy, Stupid, Love may be one of my favorite romantic comedies, especially after my latest re-watch. It has just the right balance of laughs and romance, and the performances feel genuine and more importantly, relatable. That’s not terribly surprising, given the all-star cast. Carell and Moore have a wonderful rapport and you can feel the history between their characters, despite the fact that they separate in quite literally the first scene of the film. There is no obvious conclusion to their story here. The romantic gestures are there, the lingering moments of sadness and loneliness. But divorce is a painful and touchy subject, and while you can still sense the love between Cal and Emily, there were obviously problems that needed to be dealt with. I love that the movie doesn’t give us an ending wrapped up in a bow, but it gives us hope, and sometimes that’s much better than the firm happy ever after.
This is also the first movie where Stone and Gosling were paired together and it’s easy to see why they went on to collaborate in two more. Their chemistry is amazing. Gosling’s Jacob has the potential to be an incredible creep, a “lowlife” as Cal calls him, but Gosling shows such vulnerability and empathy, not only when dealing with Cal, but when he meets Hannah as well. We learn why he is the way he is, and we see his struggle with the feelings he has for Hannah, it makes you want to defend him when Cal puts him down as not “good enough”. Stone is adorably quirky, as usual, and thankfully not in an annoying way. Stone has the comedic chops to pull off this kind of character, and her first night with Jacob is one of the film’s best scenes.
The supporting cast is pretty great as well. Marisa Tomei shines as the middle school teacher with whom Cal shares a one night stand with, and Kevin Bacon is… well, Kevin Bacon. He’s more or less an antagonist for Cal and his family. He’s not exactly smarmy, and he doesn’t do anything over the top evil to make you hate him, he’s just… there. His character’s name, David Lindhagen, is more essential to the plot than he is.
Jonah Bobo and Analeigh Tipton play Robbie, Cal’s son, and Jessica, the babysitter, and their side plot of Robbie being in love with her while she’s got the hots for Cal, is… well, it has its funny moments, but it’s also mildly creepy, especially as Robbie can’t seem to take no for an answer, even after Jessica tells him he’s making her uncomfortable. I think Carell is a good looking man, but I wasn’t entirely sure why Jessica wanted him so badly, especially pre-Jacob makeover. They never really explain it, and it feels a bit forced.
All in all, I loved Crazy, Stupid, Love. It’s a witty movie with several intertwining stories that come to a head in a fantastically acted scene. There are plenty of movies that attempt this particular plot device, but they tend to fall flat, either because the various storylines are boring, or there are too many of them which take away from proper character development. But this movie pulls it off without sacrificing the characters or plot and I would absolutely love to see Gosling and Carell in another film together. Their budding relationship was just as interesting and fun as any of the others, and they played off one another perfectly.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is a definite recommendation from me. If you’re unsure, turn it on for the scenes of Jacob taking Cal shopping for the first time. Jacob’s obvious distaste in Cal’s fashion, and his wallet, are worth a watch, I promise you.