“Crazy, Stupid, Love”: Everyone Who Went To See This Did So Because of Ryan Gosling’s Abs by Matilda Dixon-Smith

Posted on October 18, 2011


Okay, gang, sit up and take note. To steal the words from Ryan Gosling’s beautiful, beautiful mouth, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a bit of a “game changer”. In a year characterised by the Something Borrowed*-style of romantic film-making (i.e. unromantic, unfunny and generally insulting), a romantic comedy die-hard like me is refreshed by a clever, simple and well-executed film like Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Look, Steve Carell is staring up someone’s skirt!!!

Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) Weaver are on a rather dull date in a swanky restaurant. We know that Cal is hopeless because, while he is lesser-known for this, Carell often aptly plays the befuddled middle-aged no-hoper in films (Little Miss Sunshine, Dan in Real Life). Also, he is wearing sneakers and an ill-fitting suit. Elsewhere, Super Stud Jacob (Ryan Gosling) propositions law student Hannah (Emma Stone) at a bar, and she sassily denies him. Though Jacob appears to be the kind of person who rarely gets knocked back, he seems only slightly fazed. Back at the restaurant, Cal asks Emily what she wants (for dessert) and she says “a divorce”. And so we begin.

Steve Carell and Juianne Moore as Cal and Emily Weaver.

Cal drowns his sorrows in a local bar full of PYT, where he stands out due to his daggy appearance and embittered murmurings about Emily’s affair with a co-worker (Kevin “Jump Back” Bacon). At the bar, Jacob takes pity on Cal and decides the rescue-remedy is a man-over: new hair, new clothing, new attitude. One swift makeover montage later and Jacob has whipped Cal into shape, he is now a woman-hunting machine. While Cal uses this numbing womanising as a talisman against the loss of his wife, Jacob begins to question the validity of the Super Stud lifestyle in the wake of his encounters with “game changer” Hannah. The Weavers’ 13 year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is dealing with the adolescent version of love-angst. He is in love with his 17 year-old baby-sitter (Analeigh Tipton), who only has eyes for Cal.

Oh. My. God.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is certainly not completely radical. Its message is simple: love is crazy and stupid (it’s in the title!), but it is also special and important. Writer Dan Fogelman approaches the story’s timeline with a refreshing playfulness, so it takes a while for things to really fall into place and we’re rewarded when they do. The script is also witty, and some sombre scenes are lifted with well-timed humour (often delivered by Carell). I liked the tongue-in-cheek attitude of the writing, they clearly feel secure enough to poke a bit of fun at themselves. There is a sweetness to this film, and the ‘reality’ that directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa seek to present is counterbalanced by some surprisingly funny slapstick (a ridiculous scene in the Weavers’ backyard towards the end, for example, is quite cheeky).

It’s no surprise to me that Dan Fogelman wrote the funky Disney animated flick Tangled; this has much of the same brassy, beguiling humour. Unfortunately, I think that women come off rather poorly in this film, which might secretly be a little sexist. Women are, for the most part, presented as dumb floosies, powerless to a man’s authoritative “let’s get outta here”. They are really a tool for Cal, Jacob and Robbie to undergo self-involved ‘revelations’ about life.

Sample Dialogue: “Ugh, LIFE. Who knew, right?”

This cast is very strong, and managed to save the film from its muddled and sanctimonious ending (its major failing is that it’s far too long). Carell, of whom I am not usually a great fan, is wonderful. His beleaguered Cal juggles hopelessness and caustic humour well. Julianne Moore is under-utilised: a well-written and performed role suffered greatly in editing. Still, she salvaged some wonderful moments (because she’s Julianne Moore). Ryan Gosling has the potential, I think, to do almost anything on-screen. He can be an emotionally-abusive husband, a drug-addicted teacher, a mousketeer, a lonely sex doll owner and, now, a COMPLETE INIMITABLE BABE. Jacob is sexy, smooth, and funny (which surprised me). His sexual predator demeanour is expertly constructed, and he then goes to great pains to realistically represent what it looks like when that demeanour cracks. He and Carell have excellent chemistry, but nothing compared to that which exists between him and (fabulous) Emma Stone. Though the two spend little time together on-screen, they command each moment with ferocity. I think everyone is voting that they be paired together in another romantic film. Stone is her typically vivacious self. She is a great comedienne and it’s no wonder every magazine cover in the world is claiming she is their Girl Crush.

Oh. My. Giddy. God.

Also worth a mention is Jonah Bobo as Robbie, who does a commendable job of individualising a rather cliché wise-beyond-his-years role. Also, America’s Next Top Model finalist Analeigh Tipton as the Weavers’ babysitter, who has proven that she is a clever actor, not just a runway beauty. Marisa Tomei is solid as one of Cal’s crazy conquests, as is Liza Lapira as Hannah’s acerbic best friend. Unfortunately, Kevin “Jump Back” Bacon only gets one short scene to show off his infectious sense of fun.

Though a little wobbly in the final minutes, this film is unexpected and elevating. I certainly left with a smile on my face, and not just because I got to see Ryan Gosling’s Incredible Abdominal Sculpture.

*No, I’m not being too harsh. Something Borrowed was BAD BAD BAD.    

Matilda loved Crazy, Stupid, Love, but what are your thoughts? Hit, or miss? Comments, y’all!

Matilda Dixon-Smith is the co-creator and editor-in-chief of You’re Dripping Egg. She may be overly opinionated and write for YDE far too often, but because she does you can read more of her work, like “Something Borrowed” and “Serious Boredom Resulting In Love Delusion” or “Beastly”, right now!

Posted in: Movies