Sunday, September 04, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

You Had Me At Hello

Crazy, Stupid, Love. is this season's equivalent of He's Just Not That Into You, Valentine's Day and other recent romantic dramas and comedies that sprawl in their dealing with that titular emotion that can drive you wild when things are going your way, or mad when things aren't, and especially the latter which is what this film had its multiple narratives dwelling on. The ensemble cast makes it a bonus to sit through with its star power on display, with a good mix of veterans and the Hollywood youths stamping their mark to make this a lot more memorable than your typical, formulaic romance.

With multiple threads running, we have Steve Carell and Julianne Moore as husband and wife Cal and Emily, who begin the film with an announcement that their marriage is doomed, setting off a catalyst of events and series of stories involving their son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) being infatuated with the family babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), the latter's own infatuation for Cal, Emily and her romantic dalliance with office colleague David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) being the root cause, and Cal being helped by the suave womanizing player Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who falls hard for Hannah (Emma Stone) a lawyer who had spurned his advances, which has so far snagged him all his targets, and is now imparting his technique and knowledge to Cal to help him move on. Think of it as Hitch who doesn't provide a bill, but there to overhaul wardrobe and attitude.

Crazy, Stupid. Love. just about covers an entire spectrum both good and bad, well, mostly the challenging aspects about being in love with someone, from the feelings of being unrequited, that of what would be a stable relationship drifting apart, of loving someone much older, office affairs, bar pickups and one night stands, playing the field and being played, and the list goes on. Writer Dan Fogelman packs so much into the narrative though its near two hour runtime doesn't get felt thanks to the superb pacing in giving each aspect, and narrative thread, plenty of room to develop and breathe, not leaving you feeling that they are being rammed down your throat.

Some may balk at how convenient the storylines all play out, and frankly the way how the convergence was done was something that Bollywood comedies do on a consistent basis with everything coming together and the revelation being a moment where you inevitably pause to take stock and shake away your complacency, and work at your memory to pick up the clues that have been peppered throughout. It's the same case over here as I didn't see much coming, save for directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (whose previous film was the remarkable I Love You Phillip Morris) to pull the rug from under my feet and making me go “I should have known”.

I'd always prefer Steve Carell in non comedic roles such as Dan in Real Life, that while there are funnier moments, he doesn't draw too much attention to his comedic side unlike his well known 40 Year Old Virgin role, which in some ways this contained shades of. Ryan Gosling aces the player role with his smooth talking charms until his washboard abs got in the way, and Emma Stone was well, Emma Stone in what would be a typical young adult female stuck with that fantasy that her prince charming will finally propose. Julianne Moore was a delight to watch as the woman who had betrayed her husband and still getting confused over her emotions, while Jonah Bobo almost stole the show with his performance as the young man so determined and infatuated with his babysitter, it just hurts. Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon add wonderful supporting screen time and star-studdedness to the ensemble.

With some incredibly witty lines that do make you want to sit up and note that real people rarely talk like they do, scripted in a certain way and delivered with impeccable, deliberate timing, Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a romantic comedy that punches above its weight. It may be rote and formulaic in some parts, but as mentioned its Bollywood comedy inspired plot development is something fun to behold. Recommended.

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