|Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love|
|Written by Jo Bromilow|
|Thursday, 22 September 2011 08:00|
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
The male mid-life crisis is having a moment in Hollywood. From the superior Greenberg to the lamentable Hall Pass, the struggling 40-something man is flavour of the month. But the issue now, after that terrible Owen Wilson film, is how to make it good again. Crazy, Stupid, Love is a decent attempt. Played as a confusing mish-mash of buddy comedy and family drama, it does a good job of fine-tuning the formula.
A good cast always helps, and the stellar line-up of Crazy, Stupid, Love is one of the plus points. Julianne Moore and Steve Carrell, as Emily and Cal Weaver, have passable chemistry as mismatched high school sweethearts turned frustrated wife and lazy husband with two point four kids in the suburbs. Together, they elevate the cliched roles they've been assigned.
But while the pair have ocassional flashes of brilliance (particularly the film's final frame), it takes a number of supporting subplots to drive the film forward. The couple's teenage son is in love with his babysitter, who (in true Hall Pass fashion) is in love with Cal. Meanwhile, Emily's sleazy colleague David, into whom she channeled a little of her marital frustrations, is in love with her.
So while Emily spices up her life a little with Kevin Bacon, Cal ventures out into the modern dating scene. He's helped along the way by Ryan Gosling's Jacob, the sexiest Good Samaritan in a two-piece suit anyone has ever been picked up by on a roadside. He teaches Cal how to dress smartly and pick up hot women (including a worryingly unhinged Marissa Tomei).
But when Cal's mentality starts to rub off on his mentor, the film starts to gain some heart, neatly coinciding with the arrival of the delightful Hanna (Emma Stone, whom it's impossible not to fall crazily stupidly in love with as the film progresses). An unsatisfied twenty-something yuppie, Hannah naturally becomes Jacob's saving grace. And as Cal slips further into Jacob's hedonistic lifestyle, Jacob starts to see things through Cal's eyes.
All this is, of course, entirely predictable, with a few amusing slapstick twists and the odd sweet soul-searching moment. But the fantastic chemistry between Stone and Gosling keeps the audience entertained. Crazy, Stupid, Love does for the mid-life-crisis movie what Friends With Benefits did to the friends with benefits genre. It's not perfect, but it's a step in the right direction. The film can't quite classify itself as drama or comedy, but it's the mix of the two elements that makes it all so true.
A promising landmark on the road to the perfect redemption comedy-drama. With Emma Stone. Which makes it better.
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