Most guys won’t admit it, but they all have a bit of romance in them.
That’s the point of Crazy Stupid Love, an imminentaly enjoyable anti-romantic comedy starring Steven Carell of The Office, Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski) and Ryan Gosling (The Notebook) which opens on Cleveland area screens Friday.
What makes it such a treat? It holds a hint of reality, tinged with lots of hilarity and doused with more than its share of sentimentality.
It looks at love from an adult perspective and has little problem getting across its message that for love to thrive it has to remain fresh. That’s why I call it the anti-romantic comedy. It’s about the break-up of a two-decades long marriage because the couple Cal (Carell) and Emily (Moore) allowed their marriage to sink near the depths of domestic hell.
They live their lives more apart, at least intellectually and emotionally, than together not caring how one appears to the other. Let’s face it. If you’re in an adult relationship, you don’t dress for youself. You dress to impress your mate. They say that once a couple gets married all the veils and mysteries are lifted. I’m here to say that perhaps there are certain veils that should remain in place – permanently.
Emily finally reaches the point where she realizes that the end of her teen dream has come. Marrried to Cal since she was 19, and now in her mid-40s, she’s in a rut and, although he doesn’t realize it, so is he. Over dinner, she asks for a divorce sending Cal to a cruddy apartment and an emotional tailspin.
He does what any guy would: he drinks. He hangs at his local, trendy watering hole mumbling to anyone who will listen about his failed marriage until it all gets to be too much to take for the bar’s resident horndog, Jacob (Gosling).
The younger Jacob takes Cal under his wing and transforms his look and his attitude turning him into a ladies magnet, much to Cal’s surprise. Soon he’s dropping lines and scoring with women left and right. But it’s empty. His son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) knows it and so does Cal.
But he’s a sympathetic character primarily because his wife drops her little bombshell on him out of the blue. Yet even after he moves out, he clings, secretly tending to the yard at night just so he can hold on to a small piece of what he thought was his dream.
Been there, know that. I get it. And that’s why Crazy Stupid Love is so undeniably appealing. For anyone who’s ever been in a relationship, especially marriage, those small bits of truth help Dan Fogelman’s (Cars, Cars 2) script resonate. He peppers the film with more than a few surprises, a rarity in Hollywood film and the movie has a basic sweetness that’s easy to digest. Perhaps that’s because of Carell’s and his appealing deer-in-the-headlights turn. He’s alternately maudlin, hilarious and incredibly likeable all without being overwrought.
Moore in some respects is given a thankless role as the heavy. It’s easy to see her point and understand why she wants to dump her husband, but it’s not something that is easy to condone.
Gosling shows a different side here as the confident, bordering on arrogant Jacob, but somehow makes him likeable.
Directors John Recqua and Glenn Ficarra take full advantage of all of these things, making Crazy Stupid Love one of the best comedies of the summer.
Movie: Crazy Stupid Love
Director: Glenn Ficarra and John Recqua
Cast: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rated: PG-13 (Coarse humor, sexual content and language)
Running time: 1 hours and 47 minutes
Check for theaters and showtimes at ClevelandCinemas.com, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com