Sunday, July 31, 2011

Movie Review: "Crazy, Stupid, Love"

When you go to the movies as often as we do, you tend to see the same previews for upcoming films over and over again. In some instances, that fills you with dread—I'll admit that after seeing umpteen previews for Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman's The Change-Up, I have no desire to see the actual movie, since I have a feeling most of the film's best jokes were in the trailer. But over the last few months, I saw preview after preview for Crazy, Stupid, Love, and it made me increasingly excited to see the actual movie, although I worried that all of my anticipation would leave me disappointed.


One night while having dinner at a restaurant, sadsack Cal Weaver (Steve Carell, giving his mopey best) learns that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore, dialing back the free-spiritedness of her performance in The Kids Are Alright), slept with a coworker and wants a divorce. He is completely cut down by this news but does what any good husband would—he quickly moves out and finds a depressing bachelor apartment. He also starts frequenting a trendy bar, loudly lamenting the end of his marriage and his wife's infidelity, and his harangues catch the attention of resident ladies' man Jacob (Ryan Gosling, oozing charm, sex appeal and a little bit of sleaze), who takes pity on Cal and agrees to tutor him in the art of love 'em and leave 'em. And in true movie form, a new wardrobe and haircut later, and Cal is ready to start meeting women—with interesting results. Meanwhile, Jacob is entranced by the one woman who seems immune to his charms, brainy-but-sexy lawyer Hannah (the amazing and recently ubiquitous Emma Stone). And to top it off, Cal and Emily's 13-year-old son is infatuated with their 17-year-old babysitter, who has her own infatuation...

It may sound like a lot of plot to wade through, but in the deft hands of co-directors Glen Fiquarra and John Requa, the movie takes shape right away and keeps you involved—and invested—until the end. No character is quite what they seem (except, perhaps, some of the flaky supporting characters), which gives the film a complexity beyond your typical romantic comedy. A somewhat surprising (for me) twist toward the end of the film throws everyone for a loop, and brings out Carell's less sympathetic side, but luckily, it doesn't last long. In the end, even if the ending seems a little neatly tied up, you're left with a terrifically well-acted, well-paced movie, definitely one of the best I've seen so far this year.

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