Crazy Stupid Love is a film that doesn’t know reality or love, but pretends to be a connoisseur of both. It’s a wild, wild ride, with zero sense of direction. Despite a wonderful cast, this mildly pleasant romantic comedy is a frantic and confused mess. Infusing tones of gleeful cheeriness and depressing melancholy, we end up smack-dab in the middle of nowhere.
To many, hearing me spout about the shortcomings of these films is like preaching to the choir. However, this is different. Crazy Stupid Love (a title where the first two words describe the film perfectly) is directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa. This is the time where you say: “Who”? Well they haven’t directed much (they both wrote Bad Santa and Bad News Bears). But they did, despite their lack of a strong resume, direct one of my favorite films of last year, I Love You Phillip Morris: A film that had so much life and energy, creating nuance in their characters every step of the way, avoiding clichés and forced scenes.
Written by Dan Fogelman (Cars, Tangled), the story follows Cal (Steve Carell), a kind and gentle father who is about to get a divorce. His wife (played by Julianne Moore) has cheated on him (what a new concept that is) and so, he leaves her and attempts to move on with his life, happily and still maintaining a loving bond with his kids. Everything appears to be going ok in his life except in one department: women.
Cal isn’t exactly a ladies-man. In fact, he’s only had sex with one woman: his former wife. However, when a handsome womanizer by the name of Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) sees Cal lonely and without a clue at the bar, he offers to help him and promises a vast change in his personal and sexual life. Why? He reminds him of someone he once new.
The film surprisingly becomes more complicated as it unfolds. Subplots involving Cal’s son proclaiming his so called love for his babysitter – that same babysitter having the hots for Cal – Jacob finding a women he may actually have feelings for (and within that is another surprise) and Julianne Moore as the wife who is fighting off and then into the man with whom she cheated with (played by Kevin Bacon) are all part of what goes down in Crazy Stupid Love.
Then again, I think that’s what happens when you get lost and are without a map. Crazy Stupid Love, if to be examined in a nutshell, is your standard romantic-comedy affair: clichéd, consistently disjointed, and often offensively unrealistic. If you have seen the trailer and you thought it looked like something for you, than, well, the film will probably please.
While the lack of direction is problematic, it doesn’t make the whole experience completely awful, just rather mediocre. But, what isn’t middle-of-the line here is the wonderful cast. The cast which includes Moore and Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, and the always-lovely Marisa Tomei, all turn in charismatic and pleasing performances. They’re all such a joy to watch on screen even when their material is only adequate for teenyboppers putting on a middle school play.
On any other level, the film may be occasionally funny and optimistically heartwarming, but by the end you will likely be wondering why on Earth no one bothered to sit down, like a normal human being, and have a simple and honest conversation. Simplicity is so underrated.
2 Stars out of 4
Notes: Rated PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language, 118 minutes.