As “Crazy, Stupid, Love” begins, Cal (Steve Carell) sits in a crowded restaurant with Emily (Julianne Moore), his wife of nearly twenty-five years. When Cal, oblivious to the affair that his wife has had with a coworker, says that he wants dessert, his wife states that she is looking for something as well: A divorce. This couple’s relationship is one of several that is explored in depth in “Love,” a new comedy that examines love from a variety of different perspectives.
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Dan Fogelman, who previously wrote the delightful “Tangled,” penned this new film and balances several different romantic relationships in it. The main romantic relationship is the one between Cal and Emily, who talk past each other instead of talking to one another. When the couple eventually separates, Cal starts spending his time at bars complaining about his failed marriage.
Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a smooth-talking ladies man, eventually takes him under his wing and gives Cal a much-needed makeover. Jacob teaches Cal the rules of picking up women but inevitably begins falling in love with a girl himself. Jacob’s relationship with Hannah (Emma Stone), the girl that he develops feelings for, is the other main romantic relationship that is explored in depth in “Love.” A third relationship, between Cal and Emily’s son and his babysitter, is also focused on in this film about the highs and lows of being in love.
The cast here is exceptional but unlike previous films like “Red Riding Hood” where the cast was mostly wasted, each character in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is given something to do and has a real character to create. The four main leads (Carrell, Gosling, Moore and Stone) each have strong roles. Kevin Bacon, as Emily’s coworker who had an affair with her, does a decent job in a supporting role but his character only seems to exist to stand in the way of Cal and Emily. On the other hand, Marissa Tomei has a great supporting role as one of the women that Cal meets in a bar and she nearly steals the show in a series of funny scenes.
There are a couple of specific scenes in “Love” that make the relationships stand out so well as compared to other romantic comedies today. One scene features Cal and Emily preparing for a meeting with one of their son’s professors. There’s an easy flow to their conversation and a charm to it and it’s easy to see from their conversation why the couple fell in love years earlier. Jacob’s relationship with Hannah (Stone) is established well when Hannah visits his house and asks him about the tricks of being a ladies’ man. In both scenes, the dialogue is well-constructed and helps show these four characters as fully-realized beings with flaws, insecurities and charm.
Early on in the story, it’s easy to question where “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is heading but everything eventually comes together leading to a satisfying third act. “Crazy, Stupid, Love” easily stands high above most of the other bland and easily forgettable romantic comedies released this year. It is a must-see.