Salty and sweet. It’s such a great idea. Like pretzel M&M’s or trail mix. I don’t think I’d like pretzel M&M’s, but I do like trail mix. I also like sad comedies. They make it real in a way that heightens the comedy. Punch lines don’t have to come in the traditional way. The jokes come from the situation and the character’s commentary on that situation as opposed to the set ’em up, knock ’em down sort. The laughs start deeper that way.
Cal (Steve Carell) is getting a divorce. His wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) is going through a mid-life crisis and she’s had an affair with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon), so she wants a divorce. Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is in love with his babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who in turn is in love with Cal. Anyway, Cal goes to a bar and talks to the sky about his troubles attracting the attention of Henry Higgins/James Bond/Tom Ford-combo impersonator, Jacob (Ryan Gosling). He’s got a way with the ladies and will impart this wisdom–or is it smarts–to Cal. Then law student Hannah (Emma Stone) is involved. Then [Spoiler] [Spoiler] [Spoiler]. The End.
I used to like the Gap. Now I like Kohl’s. I think I’m degenerating. But that’s okay, right? It’s okay that I think Jacob looks like an idiot to combine brown with a dark mauve. Never trust a man in mauve, that’s what I always say. But I’ll accept that on some planet, that’s fashionable and when I find out it’s this one, I’ll lose what little respect for the fashion world that was gained through The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Did our father’s tan on the beaches of Normandy so that men could wear purple? I don’t think so.
Man Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) is a funny movie. It’s more than just funny, it’s hilarious and good drama to boot. I just realized that this is bound to be one of those reviews where I like it so much that I can’t write anything very interesting about the movie at all. How could I? I watched the movie.
Steve Carell already proved himself in Dan in Real Life (2007), so I think we can take for granted that he was excellent. And he was. As I’ve alluded to every time he comes up, Ryan Gosling is the new black. He completely and utterly steals the show in this movie–note for a joke about a movie where the lead actress has huge presents on screen: “completely and udderly.”
His partner in crime is Emma Stone, for whom my love is well documented. Looking back on the documentation, it seems I just say she’s charming and needs larger roles. So, for the record, I love Emma Stone as an actress. She’s a great comedic actress with a firm grasp on being a strong female character aided by scruffy voice and, please excuse me, less than bomb-shell curves. She’s got an interesting group of movies coming out soon with some disaster potential, but if anybody can save them, then she would probably fall into that category (but if I’m honest, two of them look beyond saving).
The writing for this movie is terrific. Dan Fogelman, my praise. One major caveat: the ending. The last two scenes are so dreadfully opaque that you’ve spent almost your entire cache of goodwill to make me still love the movie. There had to be a better way. When someone interrupts a speech given in a school auditorium, then you know that it’s time to reach for razorblades or erasers (or the delete button if you live in the 21st century). Looking at his prior credits, dude deserves serious kudos (or therapy considering all his pent up sexuality comes to PG-13).
Roger Ebert points out, with clear disapproval, in Friends with Kids (2011) the victory of “conventional values” in romantic comedies. I don’t know if you picked this up, but Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a rom-com and such a victory occurs. I would only point that the convention that truly wins in the end is accepting the truth of what you feel.
The conventions of film are, then, and probably unconsciously, set up so that the characters we expect to get together want to be together and the conflict is simply a contrivance that makes the story. I just think that what seems like cliché is actually structural with a universal truth layered on top. People put together usually get together.