Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Untitled-1Crazy, Stupid, Love isn’t one of those movies that has a hidden theme or a concealed message somewhere. Everything you need to know about it is right there in its title; it’s a story about crazy, stupid, love, and how love will either find you or pass you by. Much like (500) Days Of Summer, the love in Crazy, Stupid, Love needs to be chanced upon. It cannot be manufactured, procured, or stolen. If you meet your soulmate, you meet the person you are going to share the rest of your life with, even if she cheats on you and wants a divorce.

That’s the bombshell that opens the movie. We see pairs of sexy feet rubbing up against each other under the tables of a restaurant. Some are in high heels, some are fancy leather. And then we see the track shoes of Cal (Steve Carell), and his baggy pants. He’s having dinner with his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore). He asks her what she wants for dessert, and she says “I want a divorce”. He is stunned. On the car ride home he doesn’t utter a word, which only prompts her to talk incessantly.

Back home, their son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is caught, doing some dirty business in his bedroom, by his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), on whom he has a massive — almost unrealistic — crush. She, however, is in love with someone else (who, exactly, I shouldn’t say, but let’s just say that nothing fruitful can come of it).

In his despair, Cal drowns his sorrows at a bar, with alcohol and lengthy monologues about his wife and her lover, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). He attracts the attention of one Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a suave and debonair womanizer who somehow manages to get a new girl to go home with him every night. The bar acts like Jacob’s place of work; he’s always there, and his eyes are always on the ladies, except this one night, where he’s actually more interested in turning Cal’s life around because he “reminds me of someone”. Even though this isn’t the most substantial reason for a handsome young man to voluntarily help a down-and-out loser, we accept it because the story needs it in order to move along.

Cal transforms into a desirable smooth talker — albeit with drastic consequences — and Jacob does the unthinkable by falling in love with a girl named Hannah (Emma Stone), also with drastic consequences.

The lives of all these characters are interconnected and intertwined — some of their relationships are only revealed in the latter half of the movie. But the plot is secondary. It’s formulaic and predictable, cheesy at times, and not particularly ground breaking. It exists to support its characters, who, for the most part, are strong and complex, built on layers. They are so strong that when the cheesy moments do come around — such as when Cal interrupts Robbie’s valedictorian speech to make a grand proclamation — their performances overshadow the cheesiness to make it bearable. I didn’t find myself cringing, as I normally would, at such unrealistic spectacles. Instead, I found myself engrossed and engaged, and I somehow sensed honesty in what was being said.

And in terms of performances, there is one person in particular who stands out. I’ve never been a fan of Ryan Gosling, even though, granted, I’ve only seen a few of his films. He was good in Drive, decent but forgettable in The Notebook, brutally typecast in The Place Beyond The Pines, and simply irritating in Gangster Squad, but here, as the sexy hunk of blonde muscle, he shines. He is charismatic and emotive, and delivers what I consider to be his finest performance so far. There are scenes where he genuinely seems to be enjoying himself, especially during his first night with Hannah. It’s a wonderfully structured night, with clever dialogue and sweet build up. Gosling and Stone share an onscreen chemistry that’s effortless, and because it’s effortless, it’s believable. They seem comfortable with each other, and they give us the privilege of enjoying without having to scrutinize.

Performances are good all round, though. Carell shows that he can manage some restraint when it comes to delivering drama. Moore cries a lot, but she’s right there with the rest of the cast. Even Kevin Bacon — whose character is the cause of much of the mayhem, yet never seems to have any ill intent — is somewhat likable.

Crazy, Stupid, Love isn’t by any means a realistic movie. Things happen in it that just wouldn’t happen in real life. No one in their right mind would spend four weeks building a mobile podium — complete with red curtains — just to use it as a platform for a profession of love. But it happens here, and we accept it. The lives of all the characters become so consuming that their stories, both individual as well as collective, take centre stage, and make all the silly moments worth sitting through.

Best Moment | “If you say another word I am going to jump out of the car”… and he does. I laughed pretty hard at that one.

Worst Moment | “My mouth is seals”.

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