I’m beginning to feel like Stan in that recent episode of South Park where his entire perception of every single thing in his life is skewed because he has become a cynical asshole. I like to think I’m not that far gone, but I am gonna apologize straight away for this review: It’s not gonna be very insightful, or interesting, or funny, because I can’t summon the energy. Lately, every single movie I see is so mediocre, I find it very difficult to say much about any of them. Films rarely fall into the LOVE DESPERATELY or LOATHE PASSIONATELY categories – most of them hover in the great in-between, not sucking, not blowing my mind, just generally adding nothing to my existence (which is what I usually expect out of a movie – cue incessant disappointment).
Crazy, Stupid, Love is a new romantic comedy that’s getting a lot of love from critics and audiences. Entertainment Weekly claims “Crazy, Stupid, Love is the perfect combination of sexy, cute, wise, hilarious, and true.” Ehhhhh – hold on there partner. I am well aware that I suffer from a pretty severe case of expectation-adjustment-itis, but hearing for two solid months that this is the greatest romantic comedy to come along in years rocketed my hopes (what else is new?). I’ll give some credit where it’s due and say this is a solid, mildly enjoyable movie, but it didn’t melt my heart, make me cry with sadness, laughter, or feel terribly snuggly as the credits started to roll – all romantic comedy staples required by my slowly-blackening heart.
The story revolves mainly around Cal (Steve Carell), a typical 40-something family man, whose wife Emily (Julianne Moore) announces that she wants a divorce, is cheating on him, and might be having a mid-life crisis. Cal goes off the deep end for a minute, but then moves out of the family home, into an apartment, and starts frequenting an upscale bar. This is where he meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a young playboy who dresses to kill and brings home the ladies by the dozen. Jacob takes Cal under his wing and gives him a lifestyle makeover, turning him into the “man” he’s forgotten how to be. Meanwhile, Hannah (Emma Stone) a young, adorable, vivacious law student meets Jacob at said bar and they begin to fall for one another.
There have been many accusations of this film being “realistic”. Well, most of the characters do have jobs and go to school, and live in houses, and breathe air … that’s all I can come up with. An almost middle-aged sad-sack getting “made-over” by a random young stud? Err – it was cute and worked in the movie, but I don’t know how “realistic” that is. Fun, flirty, goofy chick goes home with crazy-hot, movie star-like womanizer, and he essentially falls in love with her because they talked all night? Really? That happens in reality? He goes from being bored by anything that comes out of any woman’s mouth to attending family functions (including an 8th grade graduation ceremony) in under a week? That’s not realistic, that’s Hollywood romance, so come off it.
The writing here is far better than, say, Something Borrowed, but nothing even close to When Harry Met Sally. The characters, for the most part, are all likeable, but that’s because of who was chosen to portray them. Carell has become Tom Hanks – that rare everyman who is charming and smart in a way that makes men want to be his buddy and women, his wife. Stone has that same quality, in reverse, although she’s really, really kinda hot as well. Julianne Moore is fine here, but any capable actress her age could have pulled this off – I could tell you why I think she was cast, but it would give the lone plot twist away, which I was actually surprised by, so far be it from me to ruin that for another. Ryan Gosling – well, he’s totally flaming hot here, and pulls off the slight jerk/still-yearns-for-love tone well.
The story is fine, everybody deals with the pains/joys of love in different ways and discovers who they are, blah blah, it’s all just fine. Towards the end I started getting bored, everybody just kept talking and I was over it. There was an obligatory scene in films like this where a major character gushes to a huge audience the lesson they learned, and it didn’t feel like a revelation or even very touching – it was just typical Hollywood, telling you how they want you to feel. That’s how a lot of the laughs felt as well – I could tell I was supposed to laugh, but the funny bone was unresponsive. There was a lot of perfectly acceptable chemistry, but no real sparks. I also can’t forget to mention the creepy babysitter/little brother/naked picture storyline that kind of made my skin crawl – surely suffocating any butterflies trying to form in my tummy.
All in all, I would mildly recommend this because it’s better than most of the romantic comedies of late, but that doesn’t mean it should be put on a pedestal either, it’s far too middling for that. It’s not crazy, it’s not stupid, and I only “liked” it.