After 15 years, Cal's (Steve Carell) wife (Julianne Moore) ends a quiet dinner by telling him she wants a divorce. Struggling on his own, Cal pals up with a young man (Gosling) who attempts to teach him the ways of being single and care-free.
Crazy Stupid Love has a little problem. It occurs around the halfway mark. Up until then, everything’s been fine. Steve Carell has been likable as Cal, a middle-aged man trying to get over being dumped by his wife by hanging out with a young barhound (Ryan Gosling, showing sly comedy chops and about 54 abdominal muscles) who teaches him the ways of the stud/objectionable douchebag. He’s done the boy version of the fashion montage (putting on nice suits and having a haircut that doesn’t look like it was done by a rusted Edward Scissorhands) and bedded a wired Marisa Tomei. It’s all very fun, if not a tiny bit tired and steeped in annoying plinky music from Now That’s What I Call Indie Cinema Vol. 3. Then a scene comes out of nowhere and smacks it like a rail crash.
Without wanting to spoil anything —although if you didn’t know this was coming from minute one you really need to brush up on rom-com lore — it’s the moment pithy lawyer Hannah (Emma Stone) decides she’s going to give Jacob (Gosling) a chance. It’s not so much a seduction as a throw down, a trading of moves and brush-offs. But it relaxes into something so stylish, so easy, funny, wildly romantic, casually sexy and really quite silly that the film seems doomed not to recover. It flies well above everything before it. As soon as it’s over you want to be back there with those characters. Everything else seems a bit floppy and wan in contrast.
Delightfully, however, the rest of the movie rises to meet it. After a first half that dashes about haphazardly, the relationships thicken. It’s still romantic comedy, written deft and detailed by Dan Fogelman, but it’s shooting harder for the romance, unafraid to follow a big laugh with a longer breather.
Every sigh and misty eye is earned, played by a cast so skilled you never give it a thought. It’s rare for a rom-com to manage even one truly romantic relationship. Most just crassly clatter towards the bit with the power ballad. This manages three, arguably four. It’s one of the most delightful, witty films of the year so far. This is a keeper.
A wonderful comedy of romance, pain and getting it all wrong until somebody makes you do it right. The kind of film that makes you want to call someone the minute its over, even if just to tell them to go see this movie.