With a title like Crazy, Stupid, Love, you almost know what to expect from the get go with this one; a 2 hour run of the mill, boy meets girl rom-com with the inevitable happy ending, right? Wrong. Crazy, Stupid, Love delivers so much more.
We are taken into the life of Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) who’s life is turned upside down when his wife (Julianne Moore) admits she’s had an affair and wants a divorce. Life on his own for the first time in over 20 years doesn’t treat Cal too nice, but ladies man Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) soon rescues him from his drunken rants and shows him the difference between a good haircut, a nice suit and some smooth words.
Carell plays Cal so terrifically that we really feel for him, and unlike the majority of the suave ladies men in Hollywood rom-com’s, Gosling’s charms and charisma give his character a likeable presence. Their relationship caters the film as much to a male audience as it does a female one. What Crazy, Stupid, Love achieves over the average rom-com is that it doesn’t follow the same conventional stereotypes we all know and have come to expect from the genre. When we get the transformation montage and Cal becomes the new stud on the block, the second act takes a whole new turn. Cal forgets his troubles and for the time being, enjoys his new life.
We soon discover that there is much more to the plot than Cal getting a divorce, however, as his son (Jonah Bobo) is madly in love with his babysitter (Analeigh Tipton), who in turn is in love with Cal. Quite a predicament. On top of this, as we approach the latter stages of the second act, although we all saw it coming, Jacob falls for Hannah (Emma Stone), who’s cleverly crafted into the plot although unforgivably not given enough screen time. This is the area where you would suspect the downfall, but remarkably, the film takes a turn in the opposite direction and grows from strength to strength.
The third act brings us the inevitable unveiling of which I shall not reveal in this review, for spoiler reasons, cleverly done in a not so predictable manor, and the scenes that follow leave us with some comedy gold.
Dan Fogleman, the sole screenwriter (a rarity for a Hollywood rom-com), manages to weave the plot together and truly help the audience connect with the characters, making you care about not just one relationship, but three. There is never a dull moment, and albeit the film is far from perfect (too little screen time for Stone’s sub-plot makes her part of the story a little short), there are moments of true wit and charm that you can’t help but smile at.
It’s not so much that the film defies the usual generic conventions, but more so that it puts a new spin on a tried formula. Many people may avoid the film purely because the title suggests a rom-com sob story that just doesn’t interest them, but it has so much more to offer than the average Hollywood flick. The script gives us something we know but in a way we are not used to seeing it. It’s a film as much about the heart ache of romance as it is about romance itself, and the wit and laughter thrown in along the way only make it the more enjoyable.