Crazy Stupid Love (2011).

D: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa. DP: Andrew Dunn. W: Dan Fogelman. Starring: Steve Carell/Ryan Gosling/Julianne Moore/Emma Stone/Marisa Tomei/Analeigh Tipton/Jonah Bobo/Joey King/Kevin Bacon/Josh Groban.

Although considered another entry in the rom-com category for the year, Crazy Stupid Love actually holds its own and gives audiences an engaging, balanced, relationship driven comedy.

The film opens with Steve Carell’s Cal being told by his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) that she wants her dessert a la a divorce. Visibly distraught and in shock, Carell later pitches himself out of their moving car and gives into Moore’s request. The rest of the film chronicles Carell’s messy journey to discover what went wrong in this relationship and build an identity that allows him to fight for what he wants. Carell ultimately grounds the film and provides the thread through which audiences experience the ups and downs of relationships. Currently the king of likable comedy, Carell is the perfect blend of apathy, normalcy, and humor all in one. Moore is a good screen partner for him, but the laughs are with her screen husband.

Yet what really works to the film’s benefit is its structure. Carell maybe be the main storyline, but the film also follows his son Robbie (Bobo), whose crush on his babysitter (Analeigh Tipton) is not only complicated, but charming. The film also spends sometime with Moore and young lawyer-to-be Hannah, played by Emma Stone. Stone’s scenes are some of the best, and although rail thin now her husky voice and delivery marks her as a great real young comedic talent. Her best scenes are with slick dynamo Jacob (Ryan Gosling). Gosling’s main relationship in Crazy Stupid Love though is with Carell. He “humbly” takes Carell under his wing and teaches him the ins and outs of picking up women (and getting laid). What is memorable about Gosling’s take on Jacob is that he never takes himself too seriously and allows the slick bravado to come from a real place that never feels pastiche or forced. And ladies, he’s not too bad to look at either.

The success of the film is ultimately due to Dan Fogelman’s script. Having enjoyed last years, Tangled, it is only surprising that a heavily Disney/animated screenwriter can give us something so strong and enjoyable. My only critique is that it does lose a bit of steam, but is able to end well and everyone leaves happy. Fogelman clearly represents talent that can cross genres and I only hope he does not get locked in anywhere, especially in the rom-com category.

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