Crazy, Stupid, Love

A “Been There, Done That” Movie with Memorable Performances by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Not to Mention a Sensational Soundtrack

Crazy Stupid LoveOverall, Crazy, Stupid, Love is an entertaining movie that exceeds the sum of its flawed parts. Despite several extraordinarily embarrassing scenes, most involving Steve Carell and the otherwise loveable Marisa Tomei in a regrettable cameo appearance, the chemistry generated between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone allows the film to effectively coalesce around its central message, namely that you have just as much chance of successfully bottling steam as you do finding, much less hanging on to, true love at any age.

As appropriately reflected by the film’s title, several interconnected stories play out as adults and teenagers act both crazy and stupid under the influence of what they all perceive to be love or its demon twin, adolescent angst mixed liberally with carnal lust. Steve Carell and Julianne Moore play a married couple with two children, separating after she reveals that she is having an affair. Quite frankly, this is the weakest link of the film, as they generate so little chemistry that it is tough to care about them.

As he has unfortunately done in most of his movie roles, Carell once again plays a likeable everyman basically without guile or sartorial taste. He is slightly more socially adaptable than the man-child he played in 40 Year Old Virgin (2005); a little smarter than the wretched idiot he played in the detestable Dinner for Schmucks (2010); and almost identical to the roles he played in the tepid Dan In Real Life (2007) and Evan Almighty (2007).

Forced to rent an apartment and reeling from his wife’s infidelity, Carell starts to frequent a singles bar where he is, as expected, a disastrous fish out of water. Drawn to his discomfort, Ryan Gosling, playing a macho, supremely confident bar stud whose charms no intoxicated lady can resist, comes to his aid to help Carell get laid.

Surprisingly, the strength of Crazy, Stupid, Love is what I thought would be its weakness, namely Gosling’s role as the uber-cool Jacob. Yes, he is at heart a shallow, self-centered dick, but you sense a vulnerability that eventually takes this film to a higher plane.

Though the talented Julianne Moore is given little to work with as Carell’s confused wife who is trying to make sense out of jumping into bed with David Lindhagen, a borderline sleazy co-worker played by the always enjoyable Kevin Bacon. Mr. Bacon is what amounts to the only true villain in the film, and he breaths life into an otherwise unlikeable character in much the same way as he did with superior performances earlier this year in Super and X-Men.

But right when you think Crazy, Stupid, Love is going to be little more than, well, crazy/stupid, along comes the glorious Emma Stone as a law student facing her bar examination. When she and her friend Liz, played with delicious flair by Liza Lapira, hit the same singles bar as Carell and Gosling, Ms. Stone will have none of Gosling’s cheap, pandering come-ons. This is an intelligent, beautiful and perceptive woman, and she quickly dismisses Gosling’s bar advances in much the same way that she dispatched zombies in the delightful Zombieland (2009) and a crowd of sophomoric classmates in last year’s Easy A (2010).

Unlike Carell and Ms. Moore, the chemistry generated by Gosling and Stone feels in every sense true to life. In particular, the scenes where Ms. Stone turns the table on Gosling and hits on him where they end up back in his apartment amounts to one of the great romantic moments you will see in any film this year. Conversation becomes more sensual than sex, and you are likely to emotionally melt into this moment as readily as they melt into each others arms.

In addition, I must tell you that this film has one of the great soundtracks that I have heard this year. The music, by Klaus Badelt and Andrew Raiher, at times seems perfectly choreographed for critical scenes, and I dare say that this is one CD that you will want to hunt down.

However, anyone who has seen the previews fully knows where this film is heading. Will Carell and Moore find a way to rediscover the love that drew them together to begin with? Will Gosling’s Lothario’s sails be trimmed by the acerbic Ms. Stone? Will the movie end with everyone reduced to a miasma of sorrow and regret or will Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa employ the cheap cinematic trick of having everyone on screen applauding as love conquers all? Want to go out on a limb and take a guess?