With a title that consists of three nouns that sound like they could have come out of any Hallmark card, Crazy, Stupid, Love seems like a pandering Romcom meant for middle-aged mothers who just want to go to the movies and watch some people fall in love. You know, just like it happened in all their other favorite movies.
It turns out that Crazy, Stupid, Love, despite flirting with taking a darker view on Love and Relationships, isn’t that far off from the Romcom formula. But unlike its genre brethren, Crazy, Stupid, Love actually earns its sappy moments, and for once this 23-year-old dude can totally see himself enjoying a movie with a bunch of middle-aged moms.
Crazy, Stupid, Love‘s success rests mostly on the shoulders of its fantastic cast. Steve Carell has had so many mid-life crises roles over the past five years that it can be easy to forget how good he is with them. His hopeless dopiness is almost too easy to get on board with, and it effortlessly supports a majority of the film.
Ryan Gosling, a paragon of method acting who’s known for his deep and dark roles (Blue Valentine, Half Nelson) pulls a 180° as the immaculate ladies man. He’s sleazy and smarmy to a fault, but plants all of that under a thick blanket of charm that, though intended for impressing women, certainly may end up putting a few men under his spell. Listen, I’m just saying that I want to marry the guy and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But neither Carell nor Gosling can hardly be considered the lone stars of the film – this is an ensemble to be sure, one strong enough that even performers like Kevin Bacon, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone can be considered of secondary note. Every player shows up at their perkiest, ready to make a Hollywood Romance movie the right way.
This is a cast that could make any movie work, but they’re hardly the only thing works in the film. Crazy, Stupid, Love is screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s first venture outside of animated territory, but his characters are expertly built through the jokes made about them. Fogelman works a complicated thread in between the lines that doesn’t reveal itself until the end of the second act that will recall a lot of cheap surprise moments from other comedies, but in Crazy, Stupid, Love the moment feels deserved and as authentic as something this contrived can pull off.
Still more credit goes to whippersnapper editing that cuts from shot to shot with excellent comedic timing, all in the name of a good laugh. It’s a long film, but at least everything keeps moving.
Crazy, Stupid, Love still loses some points to being so familiar of a love story. It’s made even more frustrating by a first hour that seems determined to give a different take on love. When Carell’s character separates from Moore’s after twenty-five years of marriage, Crazy, Stupid, Love spends half its time operating under the the impression that the two won’t get back together at the end, like a more realistic if less cheery view of romance that is missing in Romcoms.
It’s not a welcome change of course when the film veers away from the path less-taken, but at least it gets away with it.