Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Directed by: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Starring: Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore

I’m a pretty big sucker for anything even remotely resembling a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. Unfortunately for me, the romantic elements and the emotional honesty that coincide with them are often muddled by an inappropriate sense of humor. Distracting as this often is, one can likely admire what the film is trying to say in light of any discrepancies brought about by an occasional abundance of penis jokes. Just when I thought all hope was lost, we as movie-going hopefuls were recently graced with Crazy, Stupid, Love., a film I was immediately drawn to on the basis of an appealing enough central premise and an all-too-likable cast, both of which manage to contribute wonderfully to a genuinely heartfelt experience that overcomes some obvious flaws with a poignant enough central theme.

From the get-go, it’s easy to tell that Ficarra and Requa have done their research, providing us with an emotionally honest, believable and sporadically lighthearted look at how easily we as humans are manipulated by love and our own unique perceptions of it. Establishing itself as an almost unbearably sweet documentation of some very different individuals’ experiences with the subject, we’re introduced to several interconnected scenarios that shed light on something this oft-discussed and how unpredictable it can be. From teenagers and rich young womanizers to adults on the cusp of divorce, the directorial duo manages to effectively tackle the topic at hand from all angles in a slightly unconventional manner that helps the film stand apart from some (very) recent forays into similar territory.

Some jarring narrative shifts almost take away from Crazy, Stupid, Love.‘s appeal as the film nears its latter act, but the sheer sense of likability established by a terrific cast of characters and a unifying, easily identifiable central focus reign supreme over just about any minor flaws. If anything, some may not find the film as wildly entertaining as its marketing campaign has undeniably suggested, yet given the true nature of the film, anything more in this regard would take away from the proceedings and bring about some wildly inappropriate tonal shifts. Instead, the script remains snappy, sweet and humorous enough without once going overboard despite very brief bouts of ridiculousness and a small batch of unavoidable romcom clichés, maintaining its poise from start to finish.

In all honesty, I’ve never openly admired a cast in its entirety, younger talent included. Furthermore, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more generally appealing than Carrell and Gosling as Crazy, Stupid, Love.‘s unlikely dynamic duo, and it’s beyond refreshing to witness the latter spread his wings a little and dabble in the realm of comedy, and admirably no less. The chemistry these two share is, frankly, quite astounding, with each and every interaction that takes place between them remaining as heartfelt and funny as can be. Moore, Stone and the aforementioned cast of amateurs also impress, effectively rounding out a pretty stellar cast that ensures each and every character remains believable and very rarely off-putting.

As far as romantic comedies go, Crazy, Stupid, Love. stands tall as one of best to come around in recent memory. With a script as honest and heartfelt as they come and a wholly likable cast to serve as the proverbial icing on the cake, the film very effectively shares several valuable and very different insights on love and what it is to experience it, regardless of age. Peculiar shifts in focus aside, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have made the most of writer Dan Fogelman’s script and provided us with a refreshing take on the subgenre that we secretly all needed. Hesitant as you may be given the familiarity of the subject matter, at this point, it sure wouldn’t hurt to see how others feel about the topic at hand.

Rating: 8/10

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