Movies: Crazy, Stupid Love

29 Jul

In a summer in which the comedies are generally family fare, gross-out stuff, and insipid relationship comedies in which the ending is utterly predictable and getting there is less than half the fun, Crazy, Stupid Love is a welcome relief: a grown-up comedy with fine performances and a couple of genuinely surprising twists.

Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is taken completely by surprise when his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) suddenly confesses to an affair and says she wants a divorce. Cal attempts to pick up his life and start over as a bachelor, but his efforts amount to little more than sitting at a singles bar, bemoaning his new station.

Into his misery comes Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a smooth-talking ladies man who takes Cal under his wing. Under Jacob’s tutelage, Cal discovers new confidence, allowing him to romance first a lonely teacher (Marissa Tomei), then a bevy of younger beauties. As Cal is sowing his wild oats, though, confirmed bachelor Jacob finds himself falling for lawyer Hannah (Emma Stone), the one woman who appears impervious to his charms. She thinks everything is great with her life. She’s about to pass the bar, and is certain that her boring mentor (Josh Groban — yes, that Josh Groban) is about to propose to her.

Crazy, Stupid Love is a fairly mature movie, that doesn’t go for easy solutions or simple platitudes. It weaves together a number of stories of love, requited and un-, involving not only the adults, but Cal and Emily’s son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who has a crush on his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) who, in turn, has her heart set on Cal.

The performances are good across the board. Gosling, Moore, and Tomei have already received accolades in their careers, and each is good in their roles here. Carell, making the transition from broad comedy to subtler comedy with a dramatic undertone, is every bit their equal here. He shows a deft knack for turning it up at certain points, and reining it in at others, and seems to make all the right emotional choices. Emma Stone positions herself her for a big summer, with comedy here and the splashy period drama The Help just around the corner.

Crazy, Stupid Love is not a perfect comedy. But without a lot of competition in the dog days of summer, it doesn’t need to be. It’s the perfect antidote for the sound and the fury of the summer blockbusters, and a cool respite from the heat.

My score:

by Charles


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