I can’t quite put a finger on why this film works so well, but it does. The concept is pretty straight forward: wife suddenly wants divorce, man suffers from depression and “finds himself” through help of young womanizer, husband and wife may get back together? Okay, so maybe it isn’t that straight forward. Steve Carell plays Cal Weaver, the main character. Julianne Moore plays his soon-to-be ex-wife Emily Weaver. Ryan Gosling plays Jacob Palmer, the young womanizer I mentioned already. With me so far?
Okay, so, Cal finds out that his wife wants a divorce, and that she slept with another man (whose name you will NOT forget in this film), played by none other than the great Kevin Bacon. It seems Cal is too heartbroken to really do anything other than simply move out and begin the rest of his life. Emily meanwhile is ashamed of what she’s done and thinks that maybe she is going through a mid-life crisis of some kind. At first, you are thinking this is weirdly too-real storyline for a comedy – and you begin to wonder if it is supposed to be funny at all.
Cal tries to drink his problems away at a local bar, where he encounters Jacob who wants to help him (because Cal reminds him of someone he once knew). Jacob is going to help Cal rediscover his manhood, which is another way of saying he with tutor him in the art of picking up women. Jacob comes off as a sleaze, but Cal is a truly nice guy. Cal can’t exactly do it, until he suddenly just acts as himself and then suddenly he is picking up women left & right. All this time, Emily realizes that she doesn’t want anybody else other than her husband. When Emily finds out about Cal’s more recent escapades, she doesn’t think she even knows him anymore. And somewhere along the way, Jacob falls for Hannah (played by Emma Stone) and suddenly finds himself losing all that sleaze quality because he has finally fallen in love.
Throw in a young man who has fallen in love with his babysitter, a babysitter that is in love with an older man, a teacher that turns out to be a one-night-stand, and a family twist that I never saw coming and you have “Crazy Stupid Love”. The whole tale is remarkably entertaining. It is both drama and comedy, because there are elements of both. Unlike some comedies that throw in the drama – and thus muddy the water – this film keeps them very separate. I found the film to be depressing at times, uplifting at others, and pretty darned funny at other moments. The film was very engrossing though; it actually felt like a much longer movie than it actually was (but that I mean in a good way).
Much of the moral of this sordid tale is that you can’t choose who you fall for – or when. I know a lot of people out there will say “that is a bunch of baloney”, but the argument against that is simple: then you haven’t been in love. Those who have will likely agree with me on the above statement. When you know, you just know – through and through. Love can make life messy, it’s true, and I think that’s what this story is really about. I think that’s what its message was. As the story unravels, you see the same message played out in multiple characters and you may come to the same conclusion I reached.
This may be one of the better films I have seen this year. If you’re interested in a well-acted story along these lines that with certainly make you appreciate these actors and actresses in a whole new light, than I highly recommend “Crazy Stupid Love”.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.