Steve Carell. Julianne Moore. Ryan Gosling. Emma Stone. Marisa Tomei. Kevin Bacon. What could go wrong with such a stellar cast? Indeed, in less capable hands, Crazy, Stupid, Love. might not be as good as it is.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. is an ensemble romantic comedy about a handful of interconnected relationships, trysts, and crushes, including Cal and Emily Weaver’s (Steve Carell and Julianne Moore) brink-of-divorce marriage. Per the title, love sometimes blossoms in unexpected and crazy ways, causes folks to do crazy and stupid things, and, when it’s real, is worth fighting for – no matter how crazy or stupid the means of (re)winning one’s beloved.
Sound endearingly quirky? I think that’s the point; and, for the most part, CSL wins the audience’s heart with its clever plot, lovely (and sometimes riotous) wit, and earnest performances. However, one of its subplots is borderline creepy and, despite efforts to the contrary, the script borders on cliché at times.
The plot of CSL is refreshingly unique for the most part. Occasionally, it even lightheartedly and effectively pokes fun at typical rom-coms. Case in point, Cal ironically exclaims, “what a cliché,” as it starts to rain right after a climactic clash with Emily. On the other hand, CSL‘s script occasionally veers toward genuinely unoriginal via subtly superfluous exposition and canned dialogue. (For instance, how many times have I heard half of a couple in a rom-com say something to the effect of “When did we stop being us?”) Beyond that, while the comedic resolution redeems it (for the most part), the babysitter’s crush on Cal is somewhat unsettling.
Nevertheless, CSL is often hilarious and ultimately heartwarming, largely due to excellent performances from the fantastic ensemble. You cannot help but root for Steve Carell’s amusingly awkward (at first) and touchingly vulnerable “cuckold.” As usual, Julianne Moore is a captivating natural, gravitating effortlessly between comedic and poignant and landing at the right place along the spectrum between the two at the right moments. Emma Stone (Cal’s oldest daughter Hannah) is fabulously one-of-a-kind, as is Ryan Gosling (her reformed playboy boyfriend Jacob), despite his leading man good looks and je ne sais quoi. (In terms of looks and talent, Gosling is Gen Y’s Brad Pitt – I called it.) The cast is rounded out by both standout and seamless performances from Jonah Bobo (Cal and Emily’s precocious son Robbie), Marisa Tomei (Robbie’s teacher Kate), Kevin Bacon (Emily’s co-worker David Lindhagen), Analeigh Tipton (Jessica, the babysitter), and Beth Littleford and John Carroll Lynch (Jessica’s parents).
In their capable hands, the age-old subject of love is crazy, stupid, sweet, offbeat fun (for the most part), which makes Crazy, Stupid, Love. well worth watching.