Crazy, Stupid, Love: a Recommendation from Steve

Crazy, Stupid, Love is a bit crazy. It is also somewhat stupid. I didn’t exactly love it, but I did like it enough to recommend it. This romantic comedy starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Julianne Moore has a broader emotional palette than many movies of its type. That is clear right from the opening scene. Cal (Carell) is having dinner out with his wife, Emily (Moore). He’s trying to decide on dessert and he asks her what she wants. Her response is that she wants a divorce. It gets worse. On the way home she confesses to an affair. How’s that for a setup for romance and comedy?

Cal moves out, leaving Emily at home with their son and daughter. The 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is having problems of his own. He is in love with his 17-year-old babysitter. He considers her to be his soul mate. She sees him as a kid. The notion of finding one’s soul mate is an important theme in the movie. Cal meets Jacob at the bar where Jacob spends his time picking up women. He takes great pride in his ability to get women into bed and he decides to help the newly single Cal learn the tricks of the trade. I was worried that the film would glorify cheap sex as so many movies these days do (for example, that attitude ruined 50/50 for me). There is a lot of implied sex (none of it is shown), but fortunately the movie takes a turn and proclaims that true happiness is found in a sustained relationship with the aforementioned soul mate. Actually, the movie takes a few unexpected turns that help to set it apart from most rom-coms. There are some great laugh-out-loud moments and a tear-jerker scene towards the end. This scene is somewhat clichéd, but it still worked for me. There is one other story line involving a woman, Hannah, that Jacob falls for. Hannah is played by the always delightful Emma Stone. She and Gosling have a wonderful extended scene together. Gosling shows here that he can do it all. He is funny and oh so cool as the playboy Jacob. He and Carell have good chemistry together. I’m not a huge Carell fan, but I thought he was effective here as Cal. I love Julianne Moore and was pleased that her character progresses from the rough start she gets off to in the movie.

The movie is somewhat lightweight, but its main theme is a good one to ponder. At one point Emily asks Cal, “When did we stop being us?” Cal’s response is, “When you slept with David Lindhagen.” The movie makes it clear, though, that the problem is deeper and older than that and that there is plenty of blame to go around. Are you taking any of your relationships for granted? Well, stop before you lose your soul mate! Even if things are really messed up (and they get very messed up in Crazy, Stupid, Love), there is a chance to start again. That kind of hope is well worth hanging on to.