Never been a huge fan of ‘romantic dramedies’ (thanks, Mr Judd Apatow) but Crazy, Stupid, Love is somewhat of an exception. While it’s far too long and suffers from some of the tonal unevenness often seen in such films, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this clever meshing of different stories about the beauty, excitement, angst and heartbreak of love and life.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is driven by several damaged but very likeable characters. There’s Cal (Steve Carrell), a middle-aged man who discovers his wife (Julianne Moore) has been cheating on him with a colleague (Kevin Bacon). There’s Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a wealthy playboy and expert in the art of seduction who takes Cal under his wing until he meets Hannah (Emma Stone), a young lawyer stuck with a loser boyfriend. And there’s Cal’s 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who is obsessively in love with his babysitter Jessica, (Analeigh Tipton — who apparently was a high ranking contestant on America’s Next Top Model?!), who has a secret crush of her own.
It’s a ridiculously amazing ensemble cast that also features the always-brilliant Marisa Tomei (who almost steals the show) and everybody’s favourite husband from Fargo, John Carroll Lynch. The performances really elevate the overall quality of the film, and I was personally surprised by Carrell’s drama acting chops as well as Gosling’s comedic acting chops. For me, the standouts were Tomei, Gosling, Bobo and Tipton, but there were no weak links.
What impressed me most about Crazy, Stupid, Love was that the comedy side of it was genuinely funny (perhaps not gut bustingly so but amusing enough) and the drama side of it was actually romantic and emotionally effective too. There aren’t many romantic dramedies I can think of in recent times that tick both boxes. It also did a fabulous job of linking all the characters and stories together in a way many ensemble cast stories do but in a cleverer way. This was not one of those sugar-coated, lovey-dovey movies with a predictable ending, even though it’s at times (bitter)sweet and full of heart.
I still don’t like romantic dramedies but if they can all be like Crazy, Stupid, Love (except a little shorter than its 118-minute-but-felt- longer running time) then I might be more willing to give them a try.
4 stars out of 5