Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a refreshing romantic comedy. I say refreshing because it may be the first romantic comedy in a while that 1) I would recommend my mom watch it, and 2) I could actually stay in the same room while she does so. There is no gross out humor, no misplaced raunch, and while I enjoyed Bridesmaids as much as anybody, it’s a nice change of pace to have a film be so relentlessly good natured.
Not that the film is all hugging and brunches, mind you. The characters definitely go through their trials, and the central question of the film is: “What are you willing to do once you’ve met your soulmate?” There are a lot of films that center around characters discovering their soulmate, and then it’s roll credits. This film takes a look at relationships across three generations, and does a good job representing all of those, with a couple of twists and turns along the way.
Where the film really shines though is in the performances. Steve Carell is well casted as Cal, the main character, as he is mostly just doing a more grown-up, reserved version of his shtick. It suits him well, and I hope he capitalizes on it in the future. I was slightly dismayed when I heard of Carell’s departure from The Office, especially since his film career has been hit and miss-miss for me, but if he continues to deliver performances like this, well, all’s forgiven. However, the real standouts in this film are Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
Emma Stone is easily one of the best new actresses for this generation, as she does funny/cute in a way that I can only describe as ‘younger, female Steve Carell.’ She’s awkward enough to be empathetic while pretty enough to be mesmerizing. I’ve enjoyed her in everything I’ve seen so far, and Comic Con buzz bodes well for her performance in next year’s The Amazing Spider-Man. As for Gosling, I haven’t seen a lot of his work, but I was really impressed by his ability to bring pathos to what otherwise may have been a one-note schmuck of a character.
The breakout star of this film, though is easily Jonah Bobo, who plays Steve Carell and Julianne Moore’s son. He has been in a bunch of other films, but how could you not love this kid after seeing him play the lovestruck and wise-beyond-his-years 13-year-old. Oh, and I want to also make mention of Josh Groban, who is actually really funny in his small role in the film. I would love to see him in a Wes Anderson film.
Besides being very funny, I also enjoyed that this film possesses very well-rounded characters. All of them were fleshed out enough where they felt like real people, even relatively minor characters, which is quite an accomplishment from a writing perspective.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. remains entertaining the entire way through, and it’s also one of the few comedies in this genre that feels like the ending is earned rather than forced. Maybe it’s because we start this film way past the point where most others would end.