johnlink ranks CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE (2011)

Working in the theater, I tend to see snippets of many different movies. Over the past couple of years I’ve made an effort to avoid seeing pieces of movies I know I want to watch, but with some movies (especially ones I’m on the fence about) I don’t mind popping in and seeing a random scene. Such was the case with CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. When we had it in the theater I saw one bit, a tender moment when Cal (Steve Carell) is having a conversation with his ex-wife Emily (Julianne Moore). She’s calling to find out how to reignite the pilot, only he knows she’s using that as an excuse to call him. It is a small, smile-inducing, and well-written scene which, in thirty seconds, made me want to see this movie.

I watched CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE (2011) on 5.29.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

There are is a scene in the last third of this movie, the scene which launches us into the third act really, which is so full of coincidence and inconceivability that it should derail the entire film. Every character comes roaring in, at the proper time and in the proper order, to escalate an argument into a full scale tussle, with plot-advancing conflicts popping left and right. Closer to Moliere than modern Hollywood, this backyard scene should kill the movie. Instead, CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE has worked so hard to earn that scene up to that point, that we are laughing.

My college scriptwriting professor would have hated this movie. Too many coincidences, too many happy accidents. Of course, my college scriptwriting professor was also pretty terrible and unimaginative. And while I certainly agree that coincidences can ruin a movie, especially one which tries so hard to work on a more reality based plane of existence, this is a movie which sticks its landings gracefully.

Most of the credit for that goes to the acting. As a newly divorced couple, Steve Carell (doing his finest acting to date) and Julianne Moore make you root for them even as they unintentionally sabotage their relationship back-and-forth. As the younger couple, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling turn characters which could be tropes (the chauvinist and the PG-13 young adult) into much more fully fleshed out humans. In support, the babysitter in love with Carell Analeigh Tipton, really impresses in several scenes. As the post divorce love interests, Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei lend credibility to the type of characters which are usually wasted. All told, the acting in this was a step above most dramedies.

I spent the first act of this film worried that I would hate it. I hated Gosling’s character, and everything he stood for as the guy who takes a different girl home every night. I didn’t like that he was trying to turn Carell into that, to make him less himself and more like Gosling. But when this film turns, it turns hard. And Gosling, as an actor, has to work hard to make us like him (well me anyway, I can’t speak for anyone else). But he pulls it off.

Emma Stone is just beautiful. She exudes elegance while feeling grounded and accessible. In that way, I think of her like I think of Grace Kelly. They both absolutely take your breath away on-screen. She’s also a damn good actress, and manages to make us like Ryan Gosling’s Jacob more, just in the way she falls for him.

I really liked the gentleness of this movie, despite its seeming bluntness. Many moments of grand comedy are balanced with small moments of humanity. This is the sort of comedy I enjoy most. It doesn’t hurt that it also contains one of the best late-movie twists of any in its genre.

I definitely recommend this one.  Solid acting, a fun (if not great) script, and plenty of heart. A real pleasure to see.





~ by johnlink00 on May 30, 2012.

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