Saturday, 5 November 2011
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Emma Stone
By Alan Bacchus
Oh, how refreshing it is to be surprised by a Hollywood studio genre picture these days - a film about love, which doesn't need to play into the familiar overplayed romantic comedy template overpopulated by 15-year-old Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts movies or new millennium Richard Curtis dreck.
You probably know the story by now. Steve Carell plays an emasculated husband who's just found out his wife has been cheating on him. Now separated, he finds himself on the market, back on the dating scene. Ryan Gosling, a handsome playboy/barfly takes Carell under his wing for a male makeover of sorts, bringing out Carell's own inner pick-up artist.
Ficarra and Requa's film is filled with well rounded and interesting characters beyond the star casting of Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling. At its heart, the film tracks the experiences of love for a 13-year-boy infatuated with his babysitter, the babysitter who is infatuated with the kid's father, the father who is still infatuated with his wife, his wife who is no longer infatuated with him and Ryan Gosling's game-changing head-over-heels infatuation with a recently-dumped woman. Other lesser ensemble romantic films like Valentine's Day and He's Not That Into You have tried this revolving door approach, but none of them work better than this.
While other rom-coms revel in the plight of the protagonists, here Steve Carell's pathetic geek chic character, which is well used in roles from Date Night to The 40 Year Old Virgin, gets well tarnished in this film. He gets it in one of the best scenes in the film during a parent-teacher meeting with his ex-wife, as his son’s teacher happens to be the woman he slept with. Marisa Tomei, Moore and Carell create a marvellous scene which is both comedic and emotionally moving.
This scene is indicative of the intelligence of this film, playing each character with shades of grey and mixing broad comedy with edgy raunchiness and earnest life lessons. Everyone makes mistakes in this film in the name of love. It’s a difficult, nebulous fog to navigate through and with comedy and pathos the filmmakers find the right mix to make us laugh and move us to new places.
A heavy dose of strong cinematic style helps as well, bringing to mind the eccentric flourishes of John Hughes in his heyday. Crazy Stupid Love is one of the most satisfying studio commercial films this year.
Crazy Stupid Love is available on Blu-ray from Warner Home Entertainment.