At fortysomething, straight-laced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the dream—good job, nice house, great kids and marriage to his high school sweetheart. But when Cal learns that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his perfect life quickly unravels. Worse, in today's single world, Cal, who hasn't dated in decades, stands out as the epitome of un-smooth. Now spending his free evenings sulking alone at a local bar, the hapless Cal is taken on as wingman and protégé to handsome, thirtysomething player Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). In an effort to help Cal get over his wife and start living his life, Jacob opens Cal's eyes to the many options before him: flirty women, manly drinks and a sense of style that can't be found at Supercuts or The Gap. Cal and Emily aren't the only ones looking for love in what might be all the wrong places: Cal's 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), is crazy about his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who harbors a crush on Cal. And despite Cal's makeover and his many new conquests, the one thing that can't be made over is his heart, which seems to keep leading him back to where he began... (from MovieWeb.com)
Romantic comedies often have their own formulas and rules for execution, but every so often, a film emerges with an almost entirely different approach to the genre. For Crazy Stupid Love, the film takes a complicated look at love from various walks of life and age groups by honing in on one central family and those affected by love and each other. It intertwines pretty elaborately through the family -- from the husband/father to the young teenage son on down to the baby sitter -- and shows how crazy love can be... and how stupid we can get when we're in the thick of it.
From the opening sequence, we see Emily tell her husband Cal that she wants a divorce, while their 13-year-old son Robbie is caught by their 17-year-old baby sitter Jess pleasuring himself in his bedroom. Robbie then confesses his undying love for Jessica at the moment a shellshocked Cal and distraught Emily return home to blurt the news out to Jessica... with Robbie in earshot. What ensues is a convulted mess that is often funny and often heartwrenching, but not without a blunt and coarse approach to the topic of sex and love that is established right from the start.
It's tough to get into what kind of messages Crazy Stupid Love is trying to convey without looking at it as a big picture. To do so, I'm going to reveal some important plot details that may ruin it for some, but are key to discuss to really understand what this movie stands for. So if you're looking for a spoiler warning, that was it. Upon hearing from Emily that she wants a divorce after she has an affair, Cal moves out and starts frequenting a bar called Plus where he spends a few nights drunk and ranting about his wife leaving him and sleeping with another man. Self-absorbed womanizer Jacob then steps in and tells Cal he needs to man up and take control of his masculinity and move on. Jacob then turns Cal into a pet project of sorts. Up until this point, Cal was a one-woman man who'd married his high school sweetheart and never been with anyone else. Through Jacob's direction, Cal ends up bedding a woman that becomes the first of almost a dozen in his attempt to move on. He changes, not for the better, and things get pretty hairy when he tries to patch things up a bit with Emily (and has a run-in with that first woman in the process). Our "hero," Cal, is now no better than his wife who cheated on him and it becomes difficult to fully sympathize with a man who loses his integrity in response to being hurt by the woman he loves.
Meanwhile, Jacob has a run-in with a girl who he had previously tried to take home one night but had refused him. In a fit of frustration with her own personal relationship, she seeks Jacob out for a one-night-stand. She isn't able to go through with it, and in the process, the two spend the night talking, leading Jacob to fall in love with her. Through this intimate exchange of communication that actually doesn't lead to them sleeping together, we find out why Jacob is the way he is, and his transformation into a human being begins. At the same time, we have the baby sitter taking bad advice from a classmate who is known for sexual relationships with older men who tells her how she can win over the object of her affection - an unsuspecting Cal. This advice leads Jessica to take nude photos of herself with the intent of sending them to Cal in hopes to win him over. Granted, this doesn't lead in that direction, but it does play a part in the plot where everything sort of hits the fan at once in an over-the-top but surprising turn of events.
I found myself having a problem with several aspects of all of this. You can easily use the argument that none of us are perfect and a lot of the ugly sides of these relationships really aren't far from reality, however, when it comes to a story where you want some goodness to cling to, there isn't much to be found here. It's tough to side with any one character when almost everyone in the film seems to be making bad or simply messed up decisions at some point in the story. At first, the story glorifies the sexual pursuits of Jacob and Cal, and glorifies the womanizing practice, but things do unfold where it all comes back to haunt them and you see the consequences of their actions taking shape. The messages that the film end with are more appropriate than what it starts with (basically "love is worth fighting for"), but it still takes strange and somewhat icky turns regardless (Another spoiler: In the final scene, Jess hands Robbie an envelope that apparently contains the nude photos of her to "get him through high school"... ?! They never show us the photos, but it's pretty clear by his reaction and the way she presents them to him what the photos are).
As can be expected from all that's mentioned above, the content is pretty rough for a PG-13. There's one "F" word, used nonsexually by Emma Stone's Hannah in response to seeing Jacob's ripped physique. Other than that, there's a handful of "S" words," at least 30 uses of God's name in vain, as well as a few of Jesus's, and quite a bit of sexual dialog, that includes the word "bang" used in place of the "F" word and a bunch of other colorful words and phrases. The movie does have its romantic moments as well as some genuinely funny and clever moments (especially if you're a Steve Carell fan), but I personally felt more "icky" than sweet with the character behaviors in the film. It has some great things to say about sticking with your soulmate and the ones you love and to fight for your spouse when foundations start to crumble, but some of the peripheral side plots and details muddied up the core theme.
When all was said and done, I was glad I didn't go out of my way to see this in the theater and wasn't really thrilled I saw it at all. It's not a bad film; although it wouldn't be hard to point out how contrived certain things were (I didn't even reveal everything in my detailed plot analysis above), it's a unique story that's very well acted and directed. Still, without a quality "hero" to be rooting for in this story, it's difficult to really get involved as much as you need to be to be truly invested in a story like this one. And at just around the two-hour mark, it starts to feel like there's too much being stuffed into a story that would have been stronger if we'd been given characters we could look up to and feel for in a more stream-lined presentation. Sure these flawed characters may be "realistic" in some circles of our society today, but giving characters that we could aspire more to be like would really give us a film worth investing in.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 10/26/11)
Crazy Stupid Love is available on Blu-Ray and DVD and in a nice combo pack that also includes a digital copy for those who really want the whole package. Along with three viewing options are two featurettes and a stack of deleted scenes...
Deleted Scenes (12:27) - There are quite a few deleted scenes included here, but very few bear any real relevance to the film. In the first snippet, we see Hannah and Liz talking about Hannah's boyfriend and Jacob (1 "a" word), while in the next scene, Liz gushes to Jacob that she'd "do" him and send his "junk to the morgue" (1 "s" word, 1 "G-d," 1 "cr*p"). In the third one, we see Cal as he goes to rent his apartment after Emily kicks him out and it's a brief and rather depressing scene. Next we see a scene where Cal and Jacob first meet in the bathroom at the stalls and Jacob tells him off for confronting him in an awkward setting. In the fifth scene, we see Cal at the bar getting drinks and he asks the bartender for advice and he doesn't say anything to him. The following scene shows Cal pulling out of his driveway and he hits the brick entrance, destroying part of it (1 "s" word). Next, we see an extended version of when Jacob throws Cal's shoes in the mall, with additional lines (1 "h*ll"). In the eighth scene, we see Jacob trying to help Cal dress better (1 "G-d," 1 "balls"). Next, we see additional texts from Robbie that Jess receives (1 "s" word). In the tenth scene, there's an extended sequence where Emily wrestles with the copy machine at work as it continues printing pages that are too dark. In the next one, Emily comes home to Jess watching Robbie, and Jess reassures her that the kids are okay. In the twelfth scene, we see a very brief shot of Cal's youngest daughter not wanting Cal to turn off the TV and she yells in protest. The thirteenth one is a longer scene of Cal shopping at Lowe's with his kids. Lastly, there's an alternate ending where Cal tries to catch Emily in their house, Dirty Dancing style (4 "G-d"). None of the deleted scenes were especially interesting (except maybe some of the additional dialog between Jacob and Cal at the mall), and most of these were barely worth including on the Blu-Ray.
The Player Meets His Match (5:40) - The first of two featurettes covers Jacob's womanizing character and sort of walks us through scenes in the film - in the final version and on-set footage - as he interacts with Cal and Hannah. We hear from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as they talk about their characters as well as their thoughts on love. They do examine a bit of why Jacob is the way he is and deconstruct that a bit along the way. However, with it running just under six minutes, it plays more like a promo for the film than a featurette. (1 "G-d," 2 "J-sus")
Steve and Ryan Walk Into A Bar (6:40) - This is a candid interview with Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell sitting at the bar set and just chatting about the film and their characters and co-stars. Most of what they say is nonsensical and funny, but some b-roll footage and trailer clips are spliced in to bring some cohesiveness to it. It's a fun watch. (2 "G-d")
The special features for Crazy Stupid Love were surprisingly thin and disappointing (there isn't even a commentary track from anyone), but fans of the film will probably still enjoy what was included.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 10/31/11)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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