‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ wins you with charm

(L-r) RY­AN GOS­LING as Jac­ob and STEVE CARELL as Cal in Warner Bros. Pic­tures’ com­edy “CRAZY, STU­PID, LOVE.” a Warner Bros. Pic­tures re­lease.

Crazy, Stu­pid, Love is re­fresh­ingly en­joy­able. It is an un­pre­dict­able, though im­plaus­ible, ro­mantic com­edy that is laugh-out-loud funny.

It’s a dif­fer­ent kind of rom-com, one that mixes in some “bromance” ele­ments and even fo­cuses on an older mar­ried couple whose best days seem to be be­hind them. That couple is Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Ju­li­anne Moore), who are on the road to di­vorce after Emily’s rev­el­a­tion that she slept with Dav­id Lind­ha­gen (Kev­in Ba­con), her co-work­er.

Moore had a much meat­i­er role of a sim­il­ar ilk in The Kids Are Al­right, but she does what she can to make Emily a sym­path­et­ic char­ac­ter in spite of the fact that she’s the cheat­er. 

Carell chan­nels his dorky, in­ex­per­i­enced-in-love per­sona from The 40-Year-Old Vir­gin when his char­ac­ter moves out of the house. Cal pro­ceeds to vis­it the same bar every day, sip­ping the same fruity drink and lament­ing the end of his mar­riage to any­one who will listen. His pathet­ic rants catch the ear of Jac­ob (Ry­an Gos­ling), a suave play­boy who only needs a two-minute con­ver­sa­tion with a lady to get her to go home with him.

Jac­ob takes Cal un­der his wing, gives him a makeover (a fun scene) and teaches him some tricks to woo the ladies. It works, and soon Cal is go­ing home with Kate (Mar­isa Tomei), the first of many. Tomei does a good job of mak­ing her small role mem­or­able. My fa­vor­ite part of the movie just might have been when Kate at­tempts re­venge on Cal after their one-night stand.

Jac­ob’s is­sues come to the fore­front when he meets Han­nah (Emma Stone), a spunky red­head who’s hip to his love-them-and-leave-them game. Jac­ob thinks Han­nah is a game-changer and doesn’t know how to re­lax and be him­self. We knew that Gos­ling could do ser­i­ous (see Blue Valentine, The Note­book and Half-Nel­son), but he proves him­self as a fairly skilled comed­ic act­or, es­pe­cially dur­ing his early scenes with Carell.

A third plot in the movie in­volves Cal and Emily’s 13-year-old son Rob­bie (Jo­nah Bobo) and the fam­ily’s 17-year-old babysit­ter, Jes­sica (Analeigh Tipton). Their storyline in­volves some crazy antics that may ap­peal to the young­er set.

Mis­un­der­stand­ings galore make up the movie’s fi­nal act and get the most laughs. The un­ex­pec­ted twist near the end had the audi­ence at my screen­ing rolling with laughter. It’s best not to know any­thing about the end­ing be­cause it makes the twist much more head-scratch­ing.

Writer Dan Fo­gel­man’s script is a bit heavy on the drama early on, and the movie some­times feels a little slow. Thank­fully, things pick up and nev­er look back.

One un­for­tu­nate thing about the movie is that I felt like I had ba­sic­ally seen the first half thanks to the overly talky trail­er. The pre­view ruined po­ten­tially funny mo­ments like Ju­li­anne Moore’s “I saw the new Twi­light movie by my­self. It was so bad,” and Emma Stone’s “Ser­i­ously?! It’s like you’re Pho­toshopped.”

I’d de­scribe Crazy, Stu­pid, Love as un­pre­dict­ably pre­dict­able. Be­ing a ro­mantic com­edy, it fol­lows the typ­ic­al hap­pily-ever-after tra­ject­ory, but get­ting there is fun, and the fact that the char­ac­ters are worth caring about is a bo­nus. ••

Movie Grade: B+

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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