July 30, 2011

MOVIES: Crazy Stupid Love (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, 2011)

For most of its length, Crazy Stupid Love is a better than average romantic comedy, and while it does fall somewhat into predictability in the last half-hour, it's still worth seeing.

Steve Carell stars as Cal, and the movie opens as his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), announces that she wants a divorce. Before long, Cal's hanging out at the neighborhood bar, where the local ladies' man, Jacob (Ryan Gosling), takes pity on him and adopts him for a fashion/personality makeover. Before long, Cal's taking home a different woman every night, all the while pining for Emily.

There's a lot of pining going on in this movie; the one girl Jacob can't pick up at the bar is, of course, the one who most intrigues him. That's Hannah (Emma Stone), who's slowly coming to the realization that she doesn't really love her schlumpy boyfriend (Josh Groban, surprisingly effective in a small role). Cal's 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is in love with his baby-sitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who is in turn crushing on Cal.

Not everything in the movie works -- there's an obligatory Brawl of Misunderstanding when all the male characters come together late in the movie, and the Robbie/Jessica/Cal storyline plays out in a queasy way, with a particularly icky final scene. But there are a lot of wonderful scenes here, and given the strength of this cast (Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei are also effective in small roles), I was rather surprised that the best moments feature Carell.

One mark of a good actor is that he makes his co-stars look good, and almost everyone in this movie has their best moments in scenes with Carell. A barroom chat in which Cal explains why he can't be truly happy that Jacob's found true love, a father-son catch with Robbie, an awkward car ride with Emily after she asks for a divorce -- Carell shines in all of these scenes. He's funny without mugging, and he makes the serious moments work, too.

If you like romantic comedy, you'll certainly want to see this, and it's good enough that you might enjoy it if even if that's not your genre of choice.

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