Crazy love story worth a laugh

Romantic comedy with charm to spare

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling star in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Love hurts, according to bludgeon-rockers Nazareth (although Gram Parsons does the best version of that paean to pain). And love also makes you crazy and stupid, according to a new Hollywood rom-com. There is some good news, though. According to Crazy, Stupid, Love, if you stay true to the idea of a soulmate, you may — just may — end up a winner in love’s ever-so-fickle lottery.

Crazy has a slick opening sequence that begins with an ankle-high tracking shot in a fancy restaurant that shows his-and-her pairs of dressy shoes (some of which are playing footsie). The shot comes to a jarring halt upon spotting two scuffed New Balance runners parked primly under a chair, some distance from their mate pair. The camera moves up to reveal Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right) finishing off a boring dinner that seems about 10 years distant from any signs of romantic life. As it turns out, he wants the crème brulee and she wants a divorce, thus putting the kibosh on 25 years of marriage.

Cal goes into a tailspin and is soon hitting the bars at night, boring everyone within earshot with a tape-loop account of how his high school sweetheart has betrayed him. After a couple days of this, Cal is approached by Jacob (Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine, Fracture) a slick seducer who takes pity on the poor schlub and decides to teach him how to “reclaim his manhood” — no easy task. But after personal grooming tips, a complete wardrobe overhaul, and an extensive tutorial on how to slap A-list moves on pretty women, the lovelorn loser eventually takes flight as a certified stud muffin.

While all this is going on, a few other subplots are put into play. Cal and Emily’s cute 17-year-old babysitter has become the romantic fixation of their 13-year-old son. For her part, the babysitter has a mad crush on Cal. Emily, meanwhile, has realized that her brief affair was a mistake, and that she’s ready to try again with her husband. At least, that is, until she finds out he’s been sleeping his way through a barful of women. And then there’s Jacob, the ultimate player who has surprised himself by falling in love with the wacky, super smart and soulful Hannah (Emma Stone, Easy A, Zombieland).

This is a plot well engineered for farce, and Crazy takes full advantage. It also benefits from very fine actors, who get to play likable characters, which makes the sexual shenanigans amusing rather than desperate. And let’s have special mention for Stone: she’s adorable and funny and the camera loves her.

Unfortunately, Oscar winner Marisa Tomei plays a character who comes off badly — a jarring and shabby miscalibration in the script. The movie also runs about 10 minutes too long and concludes with one of those gruesomely sentimental public speeches that was dated even before Hugh Grant flogged it to death 12 years ago in Notting Hill.

Those flaws aside, Crazy is a smart feel-good comedy that deserves an audience. M

 

Crazy, Stupid, Love  ★★★

Directed by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Starring: Steve Carell, Emma Stone

PG – 118 minutes

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