At a special screening by the OCFS (Orange County Film Society) Tuesday evening at the Lido Theatre in Newport Beach, members were treated to the new romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling.
Crazy Stupid Love has got to be the smartest romantic comedy of the summer. I knew it was going to be good, I had high expectations, but I was even more surprised by the unique humor, wit and sweetness of the film.
Steve Carell plays Cal whose wife Emily (Julianne Moore) is having an affair with her co-worker. The film opens with Emily telling Cal of her infidelity and thus tearing a 25-year marriage apart.
It makes for a sad situation, but writer Dan Fogelman whose credits surprisingly include the animated films, Tangled, Cars 2 and Bolt does a beautiful job of romancing serious life-changing conflict with humor and sincerity.
The movie really begins when Cal finds himself alone at a bar and distraught over his marriage. Across the bar, Cal notices the super suave Jacob played by the actual super suave and sexy Ryan Gosling. His wardrobe looks right out of a Cary Grant movie and his face….well you know ladies. It just doesn’t get any better than Gosling. It’s like eye candy, except it’s Halloween and it just keeps coming and coming. You almost go blind from all the eye candy you’re consuming.
Jacob decides to take Cal under his wing and transform him into well…more like Ryan Gosling. He takes him shopping, a funny montage filmed at Westfield’s Century City shopping center in Los Angeles where Jacob gives some pretty good fashion advice – tighter blazers, no polo shirts, and layering is a must. Guys take note! A little fashion advice from Gosling never hurt anyone. A lot of face slapping and sweater layering later and Cal is a new man, well sort of. He is still in love with his wife Emily.
Back at the bar, Jacob shows Cal the moves. Always approach a girl having confidence. Ask her questions, never talk about yourself, buy her a drink even if she turns it down and don’t ask if she wants to go home with you just take her by the hand and lead her out of the bar.
If it were only that easy. Well maybe it is with a guy like Gosling. I mean, who’s going to fight him off? He could throw out the cheesiest pickup line and it will still sound like a Shakespeare sonnet.
What makes this film work is every single character in the film is likeable. We actually care about what happens to them, even Emily, the cheater, who you feel sympathy for because she lost her passion in the marriage.
Even though there are some outlandish moments in the film, which I don’t want to give away, but it did have something to do with a Dirty Dancing-Jennifer Grey-Patrick Swayze move, the characters played it out so charmingly that it was hard not to smile and think, yes, that could really happen, people could actually be that kooky, especially when they’re in love.
It was nice to see Gosling in a romantic comedy, after such heavies as All Good Things and Blue Valentine, his quick witted humor and perfect comic-timing seemed to come naturally for him. Emma Stone is always great and newcomers Analeigh Tipton and Jonah Boo are definitely on their way to becoming the next big thing. Tipton, the babysitter, says my favorite line of the film. She catches Emily kissing her new boyfriend and when Emily tries to pay her for her babysitting services she screams, “I don’t want your slut money!” I have to find a way to use that in my everyday life. Priceless!
In classic romantic comedy fashion, Crazy Stupid Love’s characters become intertwined with each other, which may seem like it’s one insane coincidence after another, but because the writer keeps the world of these characters so small and intimate, it seems only natural that everyone is in love with each other in this story.
The scene with Jacob and Hannah (Stone) at Jacob’s pad was hilarious as they attempted, both intoxicated, to sleep together, but found each other’s company more satisfying. It was this sweet moment that gave the film a genuine quality that tied the rest of the film together and gave merit to the overall theme of the movie – love is crazy and stupid, but it is worth fighting for.
Although there are many predictable moments in the film, it does have a unique style to it that other romantic comedies nowadays lack. The characters are smart, not stupid even though they let their emotions control their actions. The movie is not sappy and melodramatic, it is real and authentic and raises a lot of questions about what being in love and finding your soulmate is truly about.
To become a member of the Orange County Film Society and see special screenings of notable films, please visit the Orange County Film Society.