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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Movie Review: CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.


"I'm going to help you rediscover your manhood. Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?"
-- Jacob

Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a 2011 dramatic comedy directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa that centers around the conflicting love lives of one family. When Emily Weaver (Julianne Moore) tells her husband Cal (Steve Carell) that she wants a divorce, his life begins to tailspin. He moves out and spends much of his time at a local bar where he meets a young womanizer named Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who takes it upon himself to reinvent Cal and his manhood. The two begin to share a bit of success in their woman-chasing efforts, but Cal's interactions with his son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) help him realize that he still has strong feelings for Emily. At the same time, Jacob meets a young woman named Hannah (Emma Stone), who he calls a "game-changer." The tables somewhat turn when he starts to ask Cal for advice. However, not everything is at it seems, and the train of emotion continues to head on a one-way trip towards a massive collision.

I have to be honest and tell you that when I first started hearing about this film, I wasn't too impressed with the premise. With Carell headlining the film, I was worried it might delve into his general brand of comedy. Yeah, I know he's done some more dramatic work in films like 2007's Dan in Real Life and 2006's Little Miss Sunshine, but something about this film seemed too over-the-top funny for me to take it seriously. However, it started to garner some strong reviews, and word of mouth seemed to be rather positive, so I figured I'd give it a gander. What I received was one of the most honest films I've ever seen.

The screenplay offers a very simple story that's chalk full of twists and turns that you never truly expect. In a way, we're given a story about soul-mates and their place in our lives, and it seems like everyone is chasing after their own soul mate. That's where the fun comes in. We have a number of prominent love circles that constantly conflict against one another. In fact, I think that nearly every major relationship in the film was part of some love triangle. So, things get a little twisted here and there, but that adds to the comedy of the film. The constant strain of love and love lost is intensely emotional but bitingly humorous in the context of this film. Now, when I say that Crazy, Stupid, Love. is an "honest" film, I mean that it tells its story without really holding anything back. It never seems to delve into that Hollywood rom-com sap (although there are a few sappy moments here and there). It doesn't tie a nice little bow at the end, but it leaves you with a sense of hope and promise. It just feels more realistic. It just feels real.

As one can imagine, a great screenplay can't take off if it doesn't have the right mix in the cast. Carell is fantastic as a heart-broken man trying to find his way post-divorce. He's wowed me in the past, and he's done so again with his performance here. Moore is always great, and although I wish she would have been featured a little bit more, she does very well with the time she's given. Gosling continues to prove he's a force with which to be reckoned on the Hollywood scene, bringing a comedic element to the film that's undeniably hilarious. Emma Stone is also a little under-utilized, but she brings her brand of humor and sass to the screen whenever given the opportunity. We also get some great performances from younger actors like Bobo and Analeigh Tipton. Also be on the lookout for fantastic supporting roles and cameo appearances from the likes of Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei and Josh Groban. Overall, we have a fantastic cast that's firing on all cylinders.

At the end of the day, I think Crazy, Stupid, Love. is pretty close to a must-see. Sure, a lot of guys are going to dismiss it as another "chick flick," but I think there's a lot for both sexes to enjoy here. We get into the psyche of both men and women in completely different stages of life as they search for their soul-mates. Everyone in the world is ultimately looking for love, and because there's so many facets to this film, I can nearly guarantee that you'll be able to find a character with which to relate. I know I did. So do yourself a favor and give Crazy, Stupid, Love. a go.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: A-
2 Thumbs Up

Addition to Rankings
Best All-Time - #127
Best Comedy - #23

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