[Click below to hear the audio version of this review which aired on WAMD 970 AM.][audio:http://www.daggerpress.com/wp-content/uploads/Crazy-Stupid-Love-movie-review.mp3|titles=Crazy Stupid Love movie review]
With a title that gets straight to the heart of the matter, “Crazy Stupid Love,” makes for a surprisingly funny romantic comedy. A lack of restraint to one story line works both for and against the film, but overall it surpasses other films in the rom-com category.
Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have the perfect life together living the American dream until Emily asks for a divorce. Now Cal has to navigate the single scene with a little help from his professional bachelor friend Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling).
Much has been made about Gosling’s comedic ability and justifiably so. His screen time steals the show, even when shared with Carell, a veteran of comedic deadpan. The pitch-perfect casting of Carell brings a depth of feeling into the inevitable hilarity. This is probably Carell’s best role since “Little Miss Sunshine” and it says much of Gosling’s talents that he is able to make his comedic mark without completely swamping the film.
The biggest surprise is the success of this combination of directors and writers that forayed into the romantic comedy territory. John Requa and Glenn Ficcara directed the comedy “I Love You, Phillip Morris,” and wrote “Bad Santa,” while Dan Fogelman, of “Cars” fame, is writing a live action film for the first time. Not exactly the go-to guys for the warm glow of the romantic world, yet the building blocks for this film are all present in their previous work. The reversal of stable family and suburban living is a theme familiar to this group and it plays out with ease. The disarray of the family unit within “Crazy Stupid Love” and the splintered subplots each portray a separate theme on romanticism.
The slow and steady hand of the screenplay and the direction made it easy to attract the talent of the cast. This is a distinctly adult film, despite its PG-13 rating. Never do the jokes fall into adolescent territory. The tender balance of Cal, his son, and the babysitter’s romantic triangle is handled with just the correct amount of curiosity and sincerity to make it genuine.
Where the film loses traction is in the waning moments, as the writing slips. While not terrible, it noticeably stands out against the strength of the rest of the film. The multiple story line approach seemed to wander too much and lack focus. To some degree both problems are justifiable, but it is going to depend on the viewer to determine if the comedic style overrides the errors in writing.
This should stand out as one of the best romantic comedies of the year, although that might not be saying much considering the genre. At least “Crazy Stupid Love” hits on both of those cylinders – romantic and funny.
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: See it. See anything but “The Smurfs.” Please.
TWO AND A HALF STARS out of four.
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Written by Dan Fogelman.
Rated PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language.
Runtime: 1 hour and 58 minutes