Kernel Rating (out of 5):
Length: 118 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Age Appropriate for: 15+. Though the film has one precocious 13-year-old who thinks he knows everything about relationships, the majority of the film’s themes about family support, marriage and the mysteries of affection and adoration probably will go over younger teens’ heads. Includes cursing; some implied sex scenes, nude photos and masturbation; and overall emotionally grownup ideas about what it means to be in love.
I love Ryan Gosling, it’s true. But ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ isn’t successful on his abs alone — a well-rounded cast, believable story about the excruciating torture of love and a nod to ‘Dirty Dancing’ help this romantic comedy, too.
By Roxana Hadadi
Here’s the thing: I love Ryan Gosling. I love him as a conflicted Jewish teen in “The Believer.” I love him as the dedicated lover in “The Notebook.” I love him as the pining husband in “Blue Valentine.” And I love him as the unbelievably smooth-talking, impeccably well-dressed, just-looking-for-that-perfect-girl guy in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” — probably the best romantic comedy to come out this summer and certainly the one that made me drool the most.
My Gosling adoration aside, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” is what romantic comedies need to succeed: Credentialed actors like Julianne Moore, hungry youngsters like Emma Stone, reined-in comedians like Steve Carell, believable storylines that don’t throw all realism to the wind and equal senses of humor and drama that keep audiences engrossed in the whole thing, not yawning or infuriated. More believable than “Something Borrowed” and “The Art of Getting By,” more genuine than “Larry Crowne” and more inspirational than “Friends with Benefits,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” weaves together all the necessary elements about love and lust and loneliness into one multi-generational package.
Oh, and Gosling is shirtless in it. My superficiality commands me to say that.
Anyway, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” isn’t just about how Gosling manages to look so pleasantly Photoshopped. Mainly the film focuses on the crumbling marriage of Cal (Carell) and Emily (Moore), together since they were in high school. Cal, comfortable at his job, living in his suburban house and hanging out with his cute kids, is shell-shocked when Emily suggests a divorce, so much so that he rolls himself out of their moving car and breaks the news to his 13-year-old, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), and the family babysitter, 17-year-old Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), without checking with Emily first. Robbie is understandably upset; Jessica less so, since she’s been crushing on Cal for a while now.
But “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” doesn’t go down some skeevy road where Cal takes advantage of the infatuated Jessica (an idea similarly flirted with in this year’s unfortunate “Hall Pass”), which would be especially upsetting since Robbie is certain he’s in love with her. Instead, Cal believably disintegrates, setting up shop at a singles bar and complaining about his wife’s infidelity to anyone there. His pathetic behavior soon catches the eye of Jacob (Gosling), a devastatingly handsome vision in some super-tailored suits who takes a different girl home each night — his slick “Let’s get out of here” is always met with a yes. It’s expected, of course, that Jacob volunteers to help Cal find his “lost manhood” (“I don’t know if I should help you or if I should euthanize you,” Jacob wonders first), but less by-the-book is how the two bond.
Much like Carell’s character Andy transformed from clueless to self-aware in his breakout film role in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” here Cal lets himself be lead by Jacob into a world men’s magazine editors painstakingly create, of carefully manicured wardrobes, chic haircuts and the perfect ways to talk to women. But as Cal struggles to decide whether he really wants to move on from the decades with Emily, Jacob gets caught up in his own romance with law student Hannah (Emma Stone), who outsmarts his pickup moves, and Robbie tries to figure out if he wants to spend more time getting his parents back together or declaring his love for the four-years-older Jessica. Priorities, priorities.
With so many storylines going on at once, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” could have been bogged down by its need to check in on so many different people; it veers away from the terrible ensemble nature of films like “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Valentine’s Day,” however, by making smart character development choices. Fast cuts and smooth editing show us the breezy way Jacob gets woman after woman, but one scene with Hannah, as they briskly banter in “Law & Order”-inspired jargon, show us how transfixed he is by her wit. Similarly impactful is one interchange between Cal, who keeps sneaking back to the family home to tend to the backyard and garden, and Emily, who calls him pretending to need help with a household appliance. It’s clear they play along with the shared ruse just to hear each other’s voices, the promise that someone out there cares about and loves you, a move that tells us more about their affection for each other than any sex scene could.
Overall, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” plays it smart, even when the film rapidly veers toward slapstick in the end, with physical rough-housing, mistaken identities and grandiose speeches about the meaning and importance of love. The film’s last third has a bit of a tonal shift that sometimes feels like a different movie, but it’s one of few errors from writer Dan Fogelman and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.
Otherwise, Moore has this whole remorseful-cheating-spouse thing on lock (remember her in “The Kids Are All Right”?), and she sparkles with Carell in a way that gives credence to their characters’ years together. Gosling and Stone, both so damn pretty, overwhelm the screen, either when paying homage to “Dirty Dancing” or playfully gallivanting in a wine shop. There’s this time when Stone jokingly bites Gosling’s shoulder while gazing up at him, and I basically would have slaughtered a village to be in her shoes — but ah, such is life. Until the day when Gosling suddenly acknowledges his overwhelming love for me, I’ll just adore his filmography, including this successful little romantic comedy called “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”