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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love



Crazy, Stupid, Love is a very pleasant surprise - a smart, warm, engaging treatise about love and finding your "soulmate" featuring terrific performances and some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. Steve Carell is a married but downtrodden man suddenly faced with a divorce from the only woman he has ever loved (or slept with), Julianne Moore, who committed adultery with her co-worker Kevin Bacon. Their 13 year old son Jonah Bobo "is in love" with his willowy but fetching 17 year old babysitter Analeigh Tipton, who in turn has a schoolgirl crush on Carell. Meanwhile, Emma Stone is a young law student naive about her own romantic potential and initially rebuffs the smooth come-ons of slick ladykiller Ryan Gosling. Convenience of plot finds Carell in the same sexy hotspot Gosling frequents, repeatedly lamenting the end of his marriage to every woman, waitress, and bartender in sight. ("I'm a cuckold!", Carell laments, sounding an awful lot like his co-worker Ed Helms in The Office.) Gosling both takes pity on Carell and tires of his endless complaining; he takes Carell under his wing and becomes Carell's Obi-Wan Kenobi on how to be a better dresser and how to pick up women. (Though Obi-Wan never slapped Luke Skywalker in the face so often - maybe he ought to have.) Gosling's mentoring sessions with Carell do contain some valuable advice for men: "never" wear New Balance sneakers, don't own a velcro wallet, don't sip from the little straw in your drink, "be better than the GAP!", and your whole wardrobe can be redone "with like, 16 items". Gosling's methods on seducing women are more questionable since, let's face it, 90% of his "charm" is because he looks like Ryan Gosling. (100% of women would agree.) Gosling, however, is unsurprisingly a very unhappy person deep down, until Stone suddenly reciprocates his sexual interest while undergoing a relationship crisis late in the story. Stone and Gosling each find more depth and tenderness with each other than they ever suspected; their scenes together evolve from sexy verbal jousting to real sweetness and intimacy. Meanwhile, Carell finds new success with women and increases his sexual conquests ninefold, yet still pines for his soulmate and wife Moore. Plentiful comedy emerges from Bobo's teenage harrassment of Tipton, bombarding her with text messages and embarrassing her with broad declarations of love at her school.  In the end, all of the characters' paths intersect in a very funny farcical convergence that could be over the top but Crazy, Stupid, Love earns it because of the care the filmmakers take with the characters. All of the actors shine in making their characters feel honest and true. However, Carell and Moore apparently send their son to the most lenient middle school ever, especially in regards to the school allowing Carell's family drama to usurp their graduation ceremony.