Friday, July 29, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, 2011) -- C+

The cast of Crazy, Stupid, Love. is so strong that they almost compensate for an embarrassingly cringe-worthy script by Dan Fogelman and shockingly pedestrian direction by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, who made perhaps the most delightfully idiosyncratic comedy of 2010, I Love You Phillip Morris. Bonus points for refraining from heedless raunch are quickly lost by the realization that none of the filmmakers have a distinct vision or insight for nearly a half dozen intersecting story lines, where Cal (Steve Carrell), having just been divorced by Emily (Julianne Moore), who's been cheating on him with David (Kevin Bacon) meets endlessly cool, sexy Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who'll teach him how to be a player - only Jacob has a hang-up of his own in Hannah (Emma Stone), the woman who might change his womanizing ways. Less interesting subplots involve the adolescent crush of Cal's son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) on babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who just so happens to be secretly in love with Cal. Cal, meanwhile, has a nasty one night stand with Kate (Marisa Tomei), who just so happens to be Robbie's 8th grade teacher. If it all sounds needlessly convoluted, well, it is, and yields little by way of meaningful relationship insight or resonance. Moreover, the "just so happens to be's" take an outrageous turn in the finale, coupled with a painfully saccharine, harmonious cast recognition that love is, indeed, all one needs. Nevertheless - through all of the expositional headache, Ryan Gosling emerges as the brightest talent of his generation, able to seamlessly pull off such comedic material here, right after his marriage-on-the-rocks virtuoso turn in Blue Valentine. Alongside Michael Fassbender, there's no better actor working today. Steve Carrell also delivers an excellent performance, arguably the best of his film career. However, the female characters get really fucked over here, especially Marisa Tomei's psycho-bitch schoolteacher, unfunny caricature and pre-feminist hysteria abounding. Yucky stuff. Likewise, Moore is merely a conduit for Carrell's sexual reawakening - the film doesn't treat her with much interest. Emma Stone is probably the strongest female presence, but even she's saddled with an Asian-American BFF whose sole preoccupation is Stone's happiness. Too bad, as even a marginally satisfactory script would have sufficed with such glowing talent on board.

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