Crazy Stupid Love (or, in its official and confusingly punctuated form: Crazy, Stupid, Love.) often feels like the American version of Love Actually (or should that be Love, Actually; this is frustrating). That is perhaps an unfair dig at Crazy Stupid Love, and too much of a compliment for Love Actually. CSL is a breezy and easy-to-swallow ensemble piece about hopeless romantics and sexual predators, and the terrifying/heartwarming similarities they share. Only minimally cloying (unlike the aforementioned Richard Curtis film, which is maximally cloying), it’s buoyed by radiant and charming performances.
Steve Carell stars as Cal Weaver, a schlubby family man whose wife/high school sweetheart Emily (Julianne Moore) reveals that she’s slept with a co-worker (Kevin Bacon) and now wants a divorce. Cal willingly leaves Emily and their kids the house, moves into a depressing apartment, and begins to frequent a hip bar where he can drown his sorrows amongst sexy youngsters almost twenty years his junior. There he meets wildcat lady-killer Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who takes Cal under his wing and ‘Pretty Woman’s’ the loser out of him, in order to get him back into the dating game. Things get complicated when Jacob meets (and falls) for the only woman to ever rebuff his advances, spiky law student Hannah (Emma Stone). There is also Cal and Emily’s son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who is in love with his babysitter (Analeigh Tipton), who is in love with Cal. Also, Josh Groban plays Hannah’s slimy boyfriend. Like I said: things get complicated.
Dan Fogelman’s screenplay too often embraces tired clichés (the ultra-wise and lesson-sharing 13-year-old, big speeches, the farcical finale), and certainly drags in parts (whenever the electric Gosling and Stone are off screen, the film seriously suffers), but directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa make it all a fairly painless and even bubbly exercise. It’s almost as sweet and funny as their previous flick, I Love You Phillip Morris, although it’s missing that picture’s unique nuttiness. Had they been able to shed the narrative deadweight, Crazy Stupid Love could have been an affecting and genre-elevating adult drama. Instead, it has to settle for being a passable rom-com (albeit one with wonderful performances and genuine chemistry).
Crazy Stupid Love is now showing in Australian cinemas.