Crazy, Stupid, Love is a friendly ensemble rom-com in the vein of Parenthood. Although it fails to reach the heights of that seminal classic, it is an enjoyable, solid enough date movie. Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) and Steve Carell (The Office, 40 Year old Virgin) star as Emily and Cal Weaver, a long-time married couple whose relationship ends in the film’s opening when Emily admits to an affair and asks for a divorce.
While brooding over the demise of his relationship in a slick bar, Cal comes across smooth talking ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling, Drive), a staunch one-night stander who kindly offers to impart his worldview to Cal. This involves shopping and a ‘Beauty and the Geek’ style makeover. Meanwhile, Jacob meets the lovely Hannah (Emma Stone, The Help) who challenges his aversion to monogamy, while Cal’s thirteen year old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo, Zathura), nurses an impossible crush on his sixteen year old babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton, The Green Hornet), which is made more impossible by the fact that Jessica has the hots for Cal.
The film balances sweetness with a dash of the more daring comedy of directors Glen Ficarra and John Requa (writers of Bad Santa and directors of I Love You Phillip Morris). Seeing these flashes of dark humour makes you wish writer Dan Fogelman (Tangled) had the bravery to be a bit more acerbic. The main laughs come from expert supporting players like Marisa Tomei, who has an amusing role as Cal’s needy fling. The rest of the cast is appealing, even if Carell is getting a bit dull playing this same Everyman role. There is little difference between his performance here and that in last year’s comedy Date Night.
The ending is one of those “big moment scenes” where the protagonist does something brave and against character to prove his love in front of a lot of people. It brings to mind the romantic comedy About A Boy from a couple of years ago, which had a similar scene that managed to be both moving and unsentimental at the same time. Crazy, Stupid, Love doesn’t quite achieve this but its own brand of sitcomy sickly sweetness isn’t all that bad.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is released in Australia on September 29th
Directors: Glen Ficarra and John Requa
Cast: Julianne Moore, Steve Carell, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon