Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) – Who needs love like that?
I’ve been looking forward to Crazy, Stupid, Love for a couple of months now. While the TV Spots haven’t been very good, the extended trailers seemed to promise a real visceral and gut busting romantic comedy that was full of heart and laughs. I’ve been yearning for a nice drama I could rally behind in the midst of the Summer Movie Experience™ but unfortunately that’s not quite what I got here.
Steve Carell plays Cal, the sort of hub which all the other players revolve around. There’s Julianne Moore who’s divorcing him, Ryan Gosling who mentors him, Kevin Bacon who replaces him, Jonah Bobo who’s his son and looks up to him (but is obviously not important enough to be included on the poster in spite of being about 1/3 of the movie’s focus) and then there is Emma Stone who plays a role along side Ryan’s character and more, but that’ll be kept secret for spoiler concerns.
It’s a stacked cast, to be sure. It’s too bad that most of them aren’t very funny. Carell tries his improvisational routine which often really only means he keeps repeating the same phrase over and over using different weird voices. It’s clearly one of the only comedy tools he knows and was best used during the superior film 40 Year Old Virgin. The fact he’s pared with Ryan Gosling makes little since, but what’s even more shocking is just how much funnier Gosling ends up being in comparison. Even Emma Stone seems to miss her funny mark in this near disaster which eventually pulls out madcap hijinks when the whole time it’s been more of a mental comedy. And then when it comes to the sincere moments none of the actors except for Julianne More really pull it off. I guess they all just wanted to do what they’re known for and not really that well.
The whole thing is overloaded. There is bloated and disjointed plot everywhere. Too many characters who have too much that needs to be done so they can wrap it all up in a neat bow a number of times in the overextended denouncement. Kevin Bacon is a good example of this. There is no real good reason he’s in this picture. His character could have been just referenced and left off camera since he adds nothing to the show. Simiarily, Marisa Tomei’s crazed school teacher role seems like it belongs in another movie entirely. She provides such a jarring clash of misfit comedy that doesn’t work here. And after those parts are cut, a general overall snippy snip snip would have helped tighten things up as well.
So really what we have here is a romantic comedy that is not nearly as romantic or funny enough. It’s too long. It’s too populated. And doesn’t seem to know just how crazy or stupid or lovely it wants to be. To be honest, other than some nice scenes here and there (Ryan giving Steve a manly make over was in the trailer) the only real satisfying storyline is that of Hal’s son and his crush on his babysitter. But even that gets a kind of disturbing conclusion.
I think I’m going to have to break up with Crazy, Stupid, Love. Because honestly, I think I can do better.
Queer gives this movie:
Comedies have not had a good track record since QaTFM started, with average grades hovering just below D+. Crazy, Stupid, Love didn’t present much via trailer to keep me from pre-assigning a D-range grade, but what the heck – that’s why we watch the movies!
CSL (as it will be called for brevity’s sake) opens with about 90% of the trailer – Emily (Julianne Moore) wants a divorce, Cal (Steve Carell) can’t handle it and jumps out of the car. Cal meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling), professional womanizer, and transforms from a simple, committed husband to a complete sleaze-bag. Meanwhile, Jessica likes Cal, Robbie likes Jessica, David likes Emily, Hannah likes Jacob, Molly likes TV, TV likes trailers for CSL, and we all follow with ease despite the attempts at misdirection.
The wheels really came off in the second half as all these story lines attempt to resolve and still try to bring the funny. As Carson on ScriptShadow says, ”the first 60 [minutes] were all one big setup, and the last sixty [minutes] are a continuous ESPN ticker feed of payoffs.” Unfortunately, he was talking about the script which I’m going to assume was significantly better than the film itself. Character development poses a problem for the payoffs. Actions indicate that each and every one of the characters are not just flawed, realistic people, but the kind of morally bankrupt individuals that can only come from the Hollywood mind. We’re to believe that despite sleeping with a number of women in the… what… 4 months of separation from his wife, that Cal still really loved his wife throughout it all? That would fly if he slept with one woman, had remorse, and settled in to the main plot of trying to win his soul mate back, but we’re supposed to believe his sincerity through some cliché dialog and a few pitiful acts of “love.” Likewise, Jacob has slept with, if we follow the logic of the limited timeline we see, thousands of women. We’re likewise to believe that in one hasty montage where he, for the first time, laughs and shows more than that half-dimension he was assigned, he’s now a changed man? Cal’s reaction to that is probably the most genuine moment in the entire film.
I can’t even begin to unravel the twisted morals of that CSL throws at the audience. I don’t go to movies to judge, honestly, but when the theme supposedly is “true love”, this warped L.A. view on love insults anybody with a real relationship. If I were separated, slept with a dozen women, and then had the unmitigated gall to claim I never stopped loving my wife through it all, I would expect her to not just laugh in my face but also beat me to within an inch of my life. Cheating is one thing, but Cal’s response to it is so odious that it just revealed that he never was the simple good-guy at the core. Once you pull that rug out from under the plot, there’s nothing enjoyable or believable about this film.
As if audiences couldn’t be insulted enough, this unabashedly Los Angeles-centric film was crudely dumped in to the indie film mold complete with quirky soundtrack, minimal locations, and lots of handheld shots. Really? Do they think audiences can be fooled that easily? Them and critics both, apparently – Tom Long of the Detroit News thinks that this film should get an Oscar. He uses little phrases like “astoundingly strong ensemble” and “Gosling, probably the best dramatic actor of his generation” while wishing all the while he could get out of this hell-hole known as Detroit and live with the real people in California. Get a grip, man!
With a few genuinely funny moments completely smothered by an overall insulting premise, Crazy, Stupid, Love doesn’t really give you anything to love.
The Fat Man gives this movie (predictably):