Sunday, July 31, 2011

Movie with Abe: Crazy Stupid Love

Crazy Stupid Love
Directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Released July 29, 2011

In the past few years of his movie career, Steve Carell has played a variation of the same part. In films such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Dan in Real Life,” and “Get Smart,” Carell has starred as a sad sack loner unlucky in love and, in some way or another, not fully grown up. The same is true in “Crazy Stupid Love,” as Carell’s Cal is blindsided by a divorce request from his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) and begins taking romantic advice from smooth talker Jacob (Ryan Gosling). The reason Carell continues to play the same part is that he’s really, really good at it, and his latest film is just as great as he is.

In many comedies, especially romantic comedies, there’s at least one weak link, some character or thread that doesn’t quite fit or whose presence is distracting from or entirely irrelevant to the main plotline. In “Crazy Stupid Love,” which should truly be defined as an ensemble movie, there isn’t any part that drags. In addition to spotlighting some great stars, the film allows its less featured actors, including Marisa Tomei and Liza Lapira, to shine in small roles that are given just the right amount of significance, as well as helping to launch the careers of its younger players like Jonah Bobo, who plays Cal’s son, and Analeigh Tipton, who stars as his babysitter.

“Crazy Stupid Love” follows Cal’s story as well as Jacob’s, contrasting their lifestyles as Cal bounces back from his floundering marriage with some decently harsh but ultimately encouraging advice on how to better pick up women. The scenes the film concocts and the lines its characters deliver are clever and to-the-point, and no plot is exhausted beyond its comedic potential. It’s not an entirely novel film, yet everything feels fresh, and each storyline is executed with style and commitment from the cast.

Carell is superb, and there’s plenty of praise owed to the other members of the ensemble. Gosling hasn’t had as much of a chance to show off his comedic talents, earning commendation for dramatic roles in films like “Half Nelson” and “Blue Valentine,” and it turns out that he has quite a knack for humor, excelling especially with his facial expressions. Julianne Moore doesn’t have a major role, but still performs as directed as a straight man. This is a magnificent showcase for the lovely Emma Stone, who knocks her role as Hannah, a lawyer on whom Jacob sets his eyes, out of the park and proves her staying power as a rising star with another stellar performance. The film includes a few fun surprising plot points of its own, and it’s an enjoyable ride from start to finish.


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