Before watching Crazy, Stupid, Love, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that you’d seen it all before. A romantic comedy with Steve Carrell learning how to date women, Ryan Gosling with his shirt off, Emma Stone being cutesy and a couple of odd-ball supporting roles for extra laughs. And while it all seems so familiar, the execution has never been this surprising, fuzzy warm or genuinely funny.
There is no time wasted in setting the scene, within the first few minutes Julianne Moore’s unhappy wife confesses that she’s had an affair and wants to divorce her husband of 20 years, Cal (Carrell). Having only slept with one woman in his life Cal finds it hard to bounce back, until he meets Jacob (Gosling). Jacob is a rich and stylish ladies’ man who takes Cal under his wing and shows him how to get back in ‘The Game’… but of course complications ensue and feelings get hurt.
But what makes Crazy, Stupid, Love better than your average rom-com, is that while the overall result is no doubt predictable, the events and characters that lead it to that point are not.
It never lags on the initial breakup or betrayal, so you don’t really have time to hate Moore’s character and it doesn’t dwell too much on the overall impact on the family. Instead it briskly jumps straight into the ‘moving on’ stage and attempts to avoid the cliché ‘win her back’ angle.
At its core, it is the unlikely friendship between Carrell and Gosling that’s most engaging. These are two actors who are really hard to dislike; one who is a dork even when trying to play it cool and another who is cool even when pretending to be dorky… or eating a pizza in slow-mo.
Gosling and Stone are cute together, but their on-screen chemistry seems more than just physical. They have genuine moments of affection that will have everyone cheering. And while the scenes between Carrell and Moore are often awkward, their affection and loyalty towards one another and their family will appeal to anyone who’s made a life together.
There are so many sub-plots surrounding these central couples that it’s hard to pick which ones you want to end up happy and those you don’t. And while there are all these different love triangles going on, there’s also a strong focus on family and doing what’s right for your children – a value that Carrell portrays well emotionally.
Much like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Crazy, Stupid, Love feels so original because it’s a fresh spin on the traditional break-up story. It is held together by likable leads and a talented support cast, but most importantly it is full of believable romance and laugh-out-loud comedy – elements that are surprising absent in many other “romantic comedies”.
All in all, this is easily one of the nicest movies I’ve seen in the last few years. Do yourself a favour and check it out.