Steve Carell as Cal Weaver
Ryan Gosling as Jacob
Julianne Moore as Emily
Emma Stone as Hannah
Analeigh Tipton as Jessica
Jonah Bobo as Robbie
Joey King as Molly
Marisa Tomei as Kate
Beth Littleford as Claire
John Carroll Lynch as Bernie
Kevin Bacon as David Lindhagen
Liza Lapira as Liz
Josh Groban as Richard
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Life for Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) seems to be going great until his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) admits she’s been cheating on him and she wants a divorce. Sullen, he starts hitting bars where he meets the smooth-talking Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who can woo any woman into bed without breaking a sweat. He takes Cal under his wing to help him up his own game with the ladies. Meanwhile, Cal’s son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is having his own issues, having a crush on the older babysitter (Analeigh Tipton) but unable to convince her to give him a chance.
The modern romantic comedy continues to try to thrive in a world where Hollywood seems to be unable to loosen the reins on the formula that has holds so many of them back. Written by Dan Fogelman, better known for G-rated family fare like “Cars” and “Bolt,” this one brings together an impressive cast of Oscar and Emmy nominees with the writers of “Bad Santa” and directors of the underrated indie “I Love You Phillip Morris” at the helm.
As much as one might assume the movie is about Steve Carell’s Cal Weaver and what happens after his wife leaves him, that’s only one part of what is meant to be an ensemble film involving a number of different stories. Obviously, the filmmakers were going for something like an American “Love Actually” but that premise just doesn’t work very well after you’ve seen far superior movies such as… well… “Love Actually.” By comparison, this one feels like it’s all over the place as it spreads its time far too thinly between the different subplots, awkwardly throwing in comedy bits to try to liven things up between the drama.
Anyone going into the movie thinking it’s meant to be a comedy might be surprised by how unfunny it is, desperately trying to find laughs with a recurring gag about one character’s last name and even regurgitating a bit from Carell’s far-superior “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” The material just isn’t on par, so to see him doing the same thing he’s done before just makes things worse.
For a movie trying to deal realistically with relationships, the movie never quite achieves any sort of credibility. You never believe that Cal can ever get to the point where he’s getting dozens of younger women into bed. And once he does, what is the point of it if the only thing on his mind is getting back together with his wife? The whole thing is as ridiculous as it is unbelievable and yet we’re expected to set aside all conceptions of how things work between men and women to believe any of it.
That leaves Emma Stone, who is sorely underused in the first portion of the movie and mostly neglected until the halfway point when the movie shifts focus to be more about her and Jacob. As much as the scenes between Stone and Gosling are where the movie shines, their relationship seems to come from out of left field and it makes little sense to either of their characters. Why would she go seeking a one-night stand with a guy she met once in a bar while he was hitting on her and why would he then spend the night just talking to her?
The young actors are impressive, particularly Jonah Bobo, who has virtually grown up on screen and continually proves to be a solid young actor, but we’ve seen way too many boyhood crushes in movies that have been done far better. If you go into this movie thinking it’s about Cal Weaver’s journey or his relationship with Gosling’s character, you’ll just get annoyed by all the tangents.
Marisa Tomei’s performance is just terrible as a woman Cal picks up, delivering some seriously bad overacting to try and make more out of what would normally be a throwaway character. It doesn’t work though she returns later to cause trouble with Cal’s plans to reunite with his wife. The sad fact is that both Tomei and Moore are solid dramatic actors but they just can’t do comedy without making things far more heightened than necessary. It’s a crying shame how “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” wastes an incredibly talented cast for what is ultimately the same tame and boring homogenized romantic comedy pap we see coming out of Hollywood far too often. It’s hard to believe these are the same filmmakers behind the edgier and far more satisfying “I Love You Phillip Morris.” Sure, they’ve made a slick-looking movie but it’s just like all the other slick Hollywood rom-coms we’ve seen in the last ten years with very little to set it apart and leave any sort of impact maybe. It also never quite gets the tone right in trying to mix laughs into the drama.
Even worse is that it’s ultimately one of those corny movies where ten minutes before the end, conflict is introduced that threatens to end all the relationships even though you know everything is going to be worked out. Sure enough, it leads to all of the characters reuniting at Robbie’s 8th grade graduation–no, I didn’t realize they did that either–but it’s exactly the type of lazy plot device used to tie everything up with a couple pedantic speeches about love. Yawn.
The Bottom Line:
“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” wants it all–to be an edgy albeit PG-13 sex comedy and a really earnest and poignant look at true love–but the latter tends to water down the former leaving a boring and tame movie that fails to work either as comedy or as romantic drama.