Crazy, Stupid, Love Reviews: Refreshingly Upscale, Contrived, Genial Messy Comedy, Real Actors

by Anne Thompson
July 26, 2011 10:45 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood
Each time a studio presents a new romantic comedy I face it with dread, unless Judd Apatow is involved. He works hard at finding some grain of truth about how men and women relate to each other. (Check out this candid KCRW podcast interview.) I'm allergic to fake studio gloss, and was surprised by the skill applied to Crazy, Stupid, Love (July 29), which could easily have gone south--the degree of difficulty was high. The top-flight cast delivers on this one.

More details, a trailer and a sampling of reviews are below.

Thompson on Hollywood
The movie, directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Philip Morris) from a script by Dan Fogelman (Cars, Tangled) follows several intersecting plotlines. The breakup of sadsack Steve Carell and wife Julianne Moore, married since high school, leads Carell to be so bloody sorry for himself that his bar mate, womanizing shark Ryan Gosling, decides to shape him up and help him to rediscover his manhood.

Carell's makeover is fun to watch: he moves on to bed several women, including Marisa Tomei, who pops up later in another context. Emma Stone plays a young lawyer in training who dates Gosling; their first date is also quite winning--as are Gosling's absurdly delineated abs. Gosling is on a roll this year, with more to come (Time welcomes him to comedy here). Also dealing with romantic issues is Carell's 13-year-old son (Jonah Bobo), who is painfully infatuated with his babysitter (Analeigh Tipton), who in turns adores Carell.

While the movie is tracking soft and could open in the mid-teens (according to reliable tracking data from major theater chain (MTC)), probably due to its older cast, the ensemble should pick up some positive word-of-mouth. I'd compare its appeal to an adult-oriented comedy like Date Night, which opened at a more robust $25 million and scored $98 million domestic. Thankfully this PG-13 comedy is not another raunch-fest.

Peter Debruge, Variety:

"Here's a fresh, insightful feel to this multigenerational love story, in which square dad Steve Carell finds himself taking dating tips from ultra-slick ladykiller Ryan Gosling after getting tossed back into the singles scene. Instead of forcing the material to go high-concept or lowbrow, Warner Bros. trusts a first-rate cast and rock-solid script to sell auds. Response should be upbeat for this refreshingly upscale offering."

Kirk Honeycutt, THR:

"The movie suffers perhaps from too many characters and subplots but all the actors appear to have fun with their characters. Carell, who has the market cornered for playing schnooks — his best movie performance remains Dan in Real Life, however — finds something new here by suggesting that there can be worse things than being a schnook. Gosling keeps it real yet amusingly satirizes his screen lothario character...Moore conveys the angst-ridden internal push-pull of a midlife crisis while Stone gets a little lost in her inconsistent character but is never less than winning."

Thompson on Hollywood

James Rocchi, MSN:
"The shine of skill coming off the actors -- not just Carell, Moore, Stone and Gosling, either, as ex-"America's Next Top Model" contestant Tipton is certainly talented enough and Kevin Bacon does an underplayed supporting part relatively well -- briefly takes your mind off the simplicity and shabby mechanics of the script."

Christy Lemire, Boston Globe:

"For a movie that intends to be rooted in a recognizable and insightful reality, "Crazy Stupid Love" features an awful lot of moments that clang in a contrived, feel-good manner. Because you see, it's simultaneously trying to charm us. Sometimes, it achieves that goal."

Thompson on Hollywood

David Denby, New Yorker:
"a genial, messy comedy…[Stone is] the strongest thing in the movie, though she isn’t part of the main line of the story, which is also the least interesting…Gosling, a serious fellow who usually plays alcoholics or drug addicts or murderers, refuses to distance himself from Jacob by parodying the role. His Jacob is not an ironist. He really thinks he’s God’s gift to women—apparently, no one before Hannah has told him otherwise."

David Edelstein, NYMag:

"Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, are too sane and (commercially) smart to make the craziness consequential and stupidity ruinous: After the whirlpools of Miranda July, we’re back on the rom-com mainland. But the movie has an unexpectedly high proportion of delights to groaners, and it’s full of actors you’ll want to see—real actors, like Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone, their edges not blunted by years of making witless buddy movies and chick flicks."

Mary Pols, Time:

"Ryan Gosling struts into a sleek urban bar in Crazy Stupid Love like he owns the place. And the movie. It's an ensemble comedy rich with talented actors, but as Jacob, a suave seducer, Gosling is the alpha. When he's on the prowl, Jacob can make it to "Let's get out of here" in the time it takes most men to ask a name. He's a contemporary version of Warren Beatty in Shampoo but organized enough to avoid double-booking his dates."

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