Crazy Stupid Love isn’t really one of the best films I’ve seen this year as the screenplay never felt real between the multitudes of relationships writer Fogelman tries to establish to go along with a clichéd ending, but the cast ensemble is put together so well that it makes it worthwhile to at least rent.
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Romance
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 118 min. – $35.99 | November 1, 2011
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Writer(s): Dan Fogelman
Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon
Theatrical Release Date: July 29, 2011
Features: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, DVD Copy, UV Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Plot: Cal Weaver (STEVE CARELL) feels hopeless after his wife, Emily (JULIANNE MOORE), reveals that she had an affair with a co-worker (KEVIN BACON) and that she wants a divorce. Disheveled, Cal is drowning his sorrow in watered down cranberry vodka when he meets ladies’ man Jacob Palmer (RYAN GOSLING) who offers to get Cal back on his feet. He first gives Cal a much needed makeover with new wardrobe, a stylish haircut and with both, a new attitude. After some coaching, Cal uses his new founded self confidence and picks up an attractive woman (MARISA TOMEI) at the bar and from there his apparent new life begins as he hooks up with as many women as possible.
Things might be going well for Cal, but he’s still in love with Emily and she still loves Cal, though Cal’s new found confidence comes back to bite him setting back any chances of reconciliation (it’s a twist, so I won’t reveal how or why). Meanwhile, Jacob begins to question own philander ways after he meets the confident and vivacious Hannah (EMMA STONE) whom he almost immediately falls in love with as she calls him out on his BS.
Crazy Stupid Love is kind of an odd film. On the one hand it comes across almost like an independent story that doesn’t following the same old, and oft tired, romantic comedy blueprint… at least for the first two-thirds before it ventures into the generic rom-com territory.
What struck me the most about this film, and not in a good way, isn’t that it was so different but that the relationships between these characters – be it between Cal and his kids, the babysitter and Cal or Jacob and Emily – didn’t exactly come off sincerely or real. I don’t think this is a problem with the casting as Steve Carell is great in the lead role as a down and nearly out man nor is it with Ryan Gosling who continues his winning streak between his powerful performances in Blue Valentine and All Good Things (and has been receiving good reviews for Drive and The Ides of March). Both Carell and Gosling turn in solid performances, in fact I think the entire cast do quite well including Emma Stone who, like Gosling, has been on a bit of a tear of late.
Instead the issue is with the screenplay as it ties together these characters which don’t come across as genuine and instead they seem to be from another world… or at least Hollywood. The screenplay was written by Dan Fogelman, a name most probably won’t recognize but you will remember his past endeavors including Cars, Bolt, Tangled and Fred Clause, not exactly a winning filmography (though Tangled is easily the best of the bunch), it’s also new territory coming from generally writing films geared towards kids.
My other problem, and it’s again goes towards the screenplay, is with the big twist (yes, even romantic-comedies now have twists). It’s revealed in the third act that the girl Jacob is dating, Hannah, is in fact Cal’s oldest daughter. Now, I don’t have a problem that she’s suddenly revealed like that as they do establish it earlier in the film, but I do have something against the fact Jacob has been dating this woman for what seems like a few months and yet he never saw a picture of her father or even made a connection between their last names (unless I missed it and she was going by her mother’s maiden name). This might seem like a minor point, and on the grander scale of the film, it is, but it is something that stood out.
Alright, so besides my qualms with Crazy Stupid Love, I did for the most part enjoy it. Like with many of Carell’s other feature films, even when the screenplay might falter, he still manages to provide plenty of laughs and that in itself comes across as genuine and, at times, heartwarming when he combines the comedy with drama, an aspect that Carell is fantastic at.
The supporting cast also turns in fine performances. I already touched upon Ryan Gosling and the run he’s on, but one cannot overlook Emma Stone whose own star has shot up thanks in large part to the quirky comedy, Easy A. For this movie, she doesn’t really have a lot to do as her character – and story – takes a backseat to the other storylines. Julianne Moore meanwhile is effective as the wife while Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei in their parts, which were more or less cameos, were good as the other people in Carell’s and Moore’s lives.
The movie was directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa who made their debut in the critically acclaimed and controversial I Love You Phillip Morris in 2009. For this film, they mostly play it safe as there’s nothing direction-wise that stands out, yet one thing I tend to notice in bad comedies is the inability to sustain some kind of comedic momentum but Ficarra and Requa were able to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. Having said that, at 110-minutes (without credits), 10-minutes could’ve been taken out but otherwise the duo directors did a good job.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
Despite the film doing decent business at the box office, there’s not a whole lot offered on the disc.
The first is a featurette entitled Steve and Ryan Walk Into a Bar (6:40; HD) which, if memory serves me, actually aired as a promo on Spike TV and features the two talking about the bar club and the movie; The Player Meets His Match (5:40; HD) is another fluffy featurette centered on the Jacob; last are a selection of Deleted Scenes (12:27; HD), including an Alternate Ending, that probably were scrapped for pacing issues. The alt. ending isn’t great but was still pretty funny (a call back to the Dirty Dancing scene). The two featurettes are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **.
There is a second disc containing the standard definition DVD copy with only a submenu for languages (English, French and Spanish). There is also an UltraViolet Digital Copy code where, via Flixter, you can watch a streaming copy of the film.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Crazy Stupid Love comes to Blu-ray with a solid if not unremarkable 1080p high-def transfer. Presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio, the film definitely has some warm overtones, though I’m not sure if that’s how it looked in theaters. Otherwise, the detail levels are well defined from the close-ups to the background objects. Throughout there is a fine amount of film grain and/or noise which only adds to the experience and doesn’t overpower the picture. As I said, it might not be an incredible looking transfer as it doesn’t exactly pop off the screen, but it seems to be the standard of recent Warner day and date releases.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The DTS-HD MA 5.1, however, is certainly standard affair. The dialogue levels are good but otherwise this soundtrack, save for the occasional romantic song, doesn’t lend itself to much depth. On the whole, it’s an OK lossless track but nothing noteworthy. It should be acceptable for romantic comedy fans.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Crazy Stupid Love isn’t really one of the best films I’ve seen this year as the screenplay never felt real between the multitudes of relationships writer Fogelman tries to establish to go along with a clichéd ending, but the cast ensemble is put together so well that it makes it worthwhile to at least rent.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. The last pic is a bit of a spoiler, so beware.