Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

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Almost from the very first scene of Crazy, Stupid, Love I couldn’t wait for it to be over. The entire film was aggressively insipid, and dares a viewer to try to like its characters, or believe that any of their behavior is based on real life. Everything these characters do is because the script tells them to, not out of any organic narrative drive. Perhaps worst of all, it ends with one of those public embarrassing moments (a speech at a school graduation, such a cliche) that is so common in movies of this ilk, and even worse, it asks us to believe that the wisest character is a child who clearly has psychological problems.

The film was directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who wrote the ribald and hysterically funny Bad Santa. The script was written by Dan Fogelman. If any of these gentleman had come to me for advice, which sadly they did not, I would have advised them to scrap what they had and tinker it into a straight farce, which it has all the elements of but little of the elan. One of the scenes with the most potential for humor (which is still botched) is when all the characters come together and the men end up in a backyard brawl. More of this was needed.

Instead the film is one of those weepy dramedies about finding our soul-mate. The opening scene has Julianne Moore telling her husband, Steve Carell, that she wants a divorce. Carell is again playing one of his sad sacks, and the shtick is getting old. She has had an affair with a just-as-dreary office-mate, Kevin Bacon.

Carell, wounded to the core, decides to try out the local watering hole, which apparently is the only bar in town, given how many whopping coincidences erupt. For no good explanation, the bar’s Lothario, Ryan Gosling, takes Carell under his wing and teaches him how to be a lady-killer (don’t talk about yourself is one of the main rules). The two end up as unlikely friends, and with a new wardrobe and an expensive haircut, Gosling manages to turn him into a Don Juan. His first conquest is Marisa Tomei, who ends up sleeping with him when he drops the act and impresses her with his hang-dog honesty. It’s an embarrassingly bad scene for both of them.

There are numerous other subplots. Gosling ends up falling for the one girl who turns him down, Emma Stone. If that weren’t enough, Carell’s 17-year-old babysitter, (Analeigh Tipton, who I see was a contestant on America’s Next Top Model) has a crush on him. She ends up taking naked pictures of herself to send to him, which is treated humorously, even while such behavior by teenage girls is in the news as a very serious problem. Carell’s 13-year-old son, Johah Bobo, is in love with Tipton. She catches him masturbating, and he tells her he was thinking about her, always a good way to start a romance. Bobo then spends the rest of the movie stalking and harassing her, but it’s okay but she’s his “soul-mate.” The kid needs extensive therapy.

All of this could have worked with a good script and decent direction, but it was not to be had. Almost every moment seemed phony and contrived, and good actors were wasted. As I said, I’m tired of this character Carell plays–he’s due to play a serial killer or Klansman. Stone overdoes her goofy charm and ends up coming off like a nitwit, while Gosling is so bland you almost forget he’s in the movie, especially when he disappears for a good chunk of it. Moore just looks like she wants out.

I see this film has a 76 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which makes this easily my overrated film of the year.

My grade for Crazy, Stupid, Love: D

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

9 responses »

  1. I saw the clip where Tomei takes Carrel back to her apartment (or the other way around) and he turns her on with his honesty on a talk show. I almost couldn’t believe what I was watching and felt supremely bad for Tomei… though she’s still hot.

  2. Good Review! Overall, the film is too conventional for my liking. It needed to be sharper, wittier, and funnier. But for average summer fare, it’s okay. It’s far from perfect and runs on the long side, but rom-com and chick flick lovers will likely be satisfied. Check out my site whenever you can!

  3. Saw this last week and while I liked it a bit more, generally agree with JS’s view.

    The first half I thought was in the ‘Just OK’ bracket – had some funny scenes and one-liners and some good performances (liked Gosling as the ladies’ man), but there was an undercurrent of phoniness that made me uneasy (like the scene where Carrell’s character is applauded by his office for only being divorced and not having cancer). As JS said, if this had been done in a farce style it wouldn’t have mattered but because it was done as a supposedly realistic dramatic comedy, it struck a disconcerting note.

    But then it largely fell apart in the second half as there were a series of unbelievable scenes (Gosling and Stone back at his place, the group fight scene, the graduation scene) that all seemed horribly mishandled and awkward, with the ‘Idiot Plot’ coming into play. It just didn’t work in the end as sentiment overtook attempts at comedy.

    As for the actors, thought Moore’s performance belonged in a different, more serious movie. Bacon was wasted in a nothing role. As for Carrell, seemed to be playing the exact same type of role he did in ‘Dan in Real Life’.

    Rating – C

  4. And to answer Brian’s question, while CSL was an ordinary film, it was better than The Sum of Us which was just turgid from start to finish. At least CSL had some funny moments.

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