Jacob (Ryan Gosling) and Hannah (Emma Stone) share a kiss in Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. isn't exactly a bad movie, but it commits two absolutely unforgivable errors. It's embarrassingly unoriginal (haven't we seen Steve Carell get the makeover treatment and try to pick up women before?), but worse, it takes a dreadful subplot and gives it far more screen time than it deserves. Really, it shouldn't have gotten any. Someone should have observed it's awkwardness and put a stop to it. Instead, it goes on and on and takes center stage as often as our main characters do. Every time the film focuses on Jonah Bobo's lovesick teen and his crush on his older babysitter (Analeigh Tipton), the film stops dead in its tracks. Crazy, Stupid, Love. has its fair share of amusing moments (and a few laugh-out-loud ones, as well), but I couldn't get past the film's problems.
Our main character is Cal (Carell), who seems to be happily married until his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) announces she's been sleeping with a coworker (Kevin Bacon) and wants a divorce. He's speechless and doesn't really know what to do with himself after he moves out. He begins frequenting a local club, where night after night, he makes a fool of himself by getting drunk and announcing his problems to the world. Jacob (Ryan Gosling) also frequents the club, and he takes pity on Cal. He gives him some tough love and makes him an offer: If he gives over his credit card and doesn't put up a fight, Jacob will transform him in a way that will make him irresistible to the ladies. And it works, Cal has ten times more sex than ever before, but all he wants is Emily. Meanwhile, Jacob begins to actually fall for a young lawyer, Hannah (Emma Stone), and Cal's son, Robbie (Bobo), seeks out his father's advice in wooing older soulmate, his babysitter, Jessica (Tipton), who secretly longs for Cal.
With big ensembles like this, you're bound to care for more some characters than others. Cal is a really likable guy. Jacob is pompous, but we enjoy watching him help Cal and court Hannah. Emily is a little flighty and somewhat annoying, but her storyline doesn't make you want to rip your hair out like her son's. Robbie's not precocious enough to make us care about what happens to him. His constant romantic declarations are grating, and they only get worse and more implausible as the film goes on. The conclusion is groan-inducing and super creepy. I kept thinking we were done with him and Jessica, but they kept popping up and becoming more and more integral to the resolution of the whole story.
It's all especially disappointing because the film is actually pretty funny. There are a few hilarious reveals, and watching Cal pick up women is really funny. Like I said, it's not the most original premise, which is frustrating, but it's still pleasant and enjoyable.
I think Steve Carell is a really good actor, and he's great here. Cal goes through many different machinations over the course of the film, even remarking at one point that he's a whole different man. I'd agree with that, and I'd say Carell sells each and every version of Cal that we see. Julianne Moore doesn't have enough to do, but she's far from bad. Gosling is surprisingly funny, and Stone is adorable. As I said earlier, everything about Bobo and Tipton's storyline bugged me, including their performances.
Coming off the heels of Friends with Benefits, a romantic comedy that worked on almost all fronts, Crazy, Stupid, Love. feels timid and lame. It's decent performances are wasted by an extremely problematic screenplay. Many are lauding the film's adult characters and down-to-earth storyline. I totally disagree with the latter, while I don't think the former is enough to give the film a pass. Despite what some might say, I think this one is just another underwhelming rom-com.