Directors: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling
Runtime: 117 Mins
From the very beginning, as Cal (Carell) throws himself out of a moving car, we get a sense of the playful humour, with shades of dark, which permeate the entire film; by the end, the humour could be called farcical (look out for the garden scene) though it treats its characters with too much respect to remain at this level for too long. Crazy, Stupid, Love does cruel things to good people who, despite their several indiscretions, come to discover the value of ‘the one’ in the gradual unfolding logic of the story. There’s a certain element of predictability involved along the way, but it’s dealt with knowingly: Carell jokes as the rain begins to fall ‘This is so cliché!’ The characters though are clearly quite thoughtful beings whom I’d happily spend a couple of hours with anytime.
Much of the film’s strength comes from its actors: at the heart of the film is the brilliant pairing of down-and-out husband Steve Carell and suave ladykiller Ryan Gosling. The women of the film are just as entertaining. Emma Stone is delightful; Julianne Moore gives a solid performance, and her character is easily likable throughout, despite showing Cal the door early on; Marisa Tomei is a comic gem. Frankly though, for a long time, this female contingent is criminally underused. Though, by the end of the film all the stars appear as one great ensemble, for the first hour or so Carell and Gosling are more or less on their own.
Jonah Bobo and Analeigh Tipton round off the main cast as Carell and Moore’s 13 year-old son and his babysitter; Bobo plays the desperate hankering of a horny teenager in a way which is surprisingly endearing and Tipton, who is the object of his affection, is equally sweet. One of my real bug-bears with American Cinema though is its readiness to equip teenagers with all the eloquence and wisdom of their middle-aged counterparts. Not to take anything away from Jonah Bobo’s performance, it is good, it’s just annoying is all. But, this being a ‘smart’ comedy film, Carell’s character references the fact: ‘How old are you?’ he asks after one particular oddly profound piece of advice from his son, and all is forgiven.
Even if it’s occasionally formulaic, with a couple of genuinely good twists and turns, and the ambition of its multi-generational story Crazy, Stupid, Love is thoroughly entertaining. Most importantly though the film never becomes mere romantic fluff, nor does it ever poke fun at its characters for comedy value; it’s not a deep film, no, but it does have heart.