Title: Crazy, Stupid, Love
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Written By: Dan Fogelman
Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Jonah Bobo, John Carroll Lynch, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon
Screened at: Warner Bros., NYC, 7/20/11
Opens: July 29, 2011
Edmond Rostand’s most celebrated character, Cyrano de Bergerac, is physically ugly, cursed with a huge nose, but he has an attribute that handsome Christian de Lenvuillette lacks. Christian is tongued: doesn’t know how to talk to a woman. Cyrano is articulate. When Christian professes his love for Roxane, the voice is that of Cyrano, hiding a short distance away, literally putting words in Christian’s mouth. In other words in the game of love, one person can make up for another’s failings. Similarly, in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” a young womanizer helps out an older man who has been dumped by his wife after twenty-five years of marriage. He shows the older man the ropes: the key pickup lines, the wardrobe, the confidence. The older man makes up for the lessons in the end by teaching the younger guy something that was missing in the latter.
The concept may not be original nor is the theme: that if you’re a man in love, and you find your soul mate, fight for her. Don’t let her initial rejections grind you down. In Dan Fogelman’s script, identity surprises give the movie a patina of Shakespearean comedy, but there’s little that is lofty, particularly when sitcom conventions take over. Nonetheless there is a deserved sentimentality that could have some of the women in the audience dabbing their eyes. “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is a decent date movie, one that portrays Steve Carell in a role that mixes comic turns with sentiment.
The plot takes hold when Emily (Julianne Moore) announces to her husband, Cal (Steve Carell) that she wants a divorce, and that she has been conducting an affair with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon), a co-worker. Justifiably stunned, Cal moves out and turns to drink, but he’s well-heeled enough to pursue intoxication at a lavish bar, exclaiming to no-one in particular that he’s a cuckold. When Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a dashing, womanizing fellow with a fashionable two-day stubble overhears the monologue, he takes Cal under his wing, sets him up with a hip wardrobe, and shows him how to talk to the beautiful women who patronize the bar. In the movie’s merry-go-roundelay, Cal picks up and falls for Kate (Marisa Tomei), Cal’s 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) declares his impossible love for his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), Jacob develops a thing for Hannah (Emma Stone), a bubbly woman in her mid-twenties. When the relationships are sorted out, the strings tied together albeit too neatly, surprises ensue.
No-one from foreign shores who still thinks that America’s streets are paved with gold will be dissuaded from this opinion by this movie. Andrew Dunn’s California photography takes in a bar so plush that it must be a set (it is), a Spartan, ultra-modern bachelor pad for Jacob actually the creation of a noted architect, and a spacious, though conventionally bourgeois suburban digs are home for Cal and Emily. Kevin Bacon turns in an unchallenging role as Emily’s lover, Steve Carell does his signature shtick as the cuckold, and Ryan Gosling is everyone’s stereotype of a swinger. If you like to see bright thirteen-year-olds like Johah Bobo’s Robbie showing that they have more sense than the adults, this is your kind of movie. I can do without the small fry in this decent if nothing-special date pic.
Rated PG-13. 118 minutes. (c) 2011 by Harvey Karten Member: New York Film Critics Online