Before it stumbles into a bit of narrative miscalculation toward the end, Crazy, Stupid, Love is one of the year’s funniest pictures, cleverly structured, perfectly paced (for the most part), and enlivened by a cast that’s pretty well unimprovable.
Steve Carell is Cal, a California suburbanite long and happily married to his high-school sweetheart, Emily (Julianna Moore). Driving in their car one night, out of nowhere, Emily tells Steve that she has slept with an amorous coworker (Kevin Bacon), and that she wants a divorce. Cal is devastated, but he dutifully moves out of the house they share with their two kids and into a soulless bachelor apartment. Beset by loneliness, he makes a few feeble attempts to pick up women at an upscale singles bar. His hilarious lack of success at this draws the attention of an observant pickup artist named Jacob (Ryan Gosling). Jacob is strictly into one-night stands–actual romance is never on his menu–and he volunteers to give Cal a studly makeover, starting with his clothes (“Be better than the Gap”) and especially his footwear. (“Are you in a fraternity?” he asks, checking out his new protégé’s puffed-up Nikes.)
Soon Cal is scoring–most uproariously with a love-starved high-school teacher named Kate (Marisa Tomei). Meanwhile, back at Cal’s former home, his 13-year-old son (Jonah Bobo) is lusting after the family babysitter, an endearingly gangly 17-year-old named Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). But Jessica is in turn crushing on Cal, who’s still making occasional household visits. At the same time, a young law student named Hannah (Emma Stone, sharp as always) is slowly submitting to the come-ons of the chick-magnet Jacob, who for the first time is feeling the stirrings of something other than lust, in a place other than his pants.
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