Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Cast: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
Analeigh Tipton, John Carroll Lynch, Jonah Bobo
Josh Groban, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei
Despite how generic its title made it sound (just a bunch of adjectives and a noun thrown in together), Crazy, Stupid, Love. seemed promising because of the people who star in it and the men behind the camera. The film contains none of the loony excitement of Ficarra and Requa's I Love You Phillip Morris. which isn't a perfect movie by any means but still thrives with something that makes it feel truly alive. Of course, it's not like they have to repeat a style on every movie, that would certainly limit their artistic blooming, but their work in this film seems stilted to say the least.
The screenplay, written by Dan Fogelman, works as Magnolia lite; we meet several characters living in Los Angeles whose lives get intertwined and united by the universal subject of love.
Carell plays Cal Weaver, a sad-eyed man whose life turns upside down after his wife Emily (Moore) confesses she cheated with one of her co-workers (Bacon) and asks for a divorce.
Cal becomes an even more tragic figure and spends the nights away crying at a hip bar where he catches the eye of the womanizing Jacob Palmer (Gosling) who has just been rejected for the first time in his life by a young, lively lawyer called Hannah (Stone). Perhaps seeking to atone for the sin committed against his masculinity, Jacob decides to "Miyagi" Cal and turn him into a womanizer.
While it can be said that Cal and Jacob share the main plot, the peripheral stories around them are what truly make the film work better than it should.
Cal's son Robbie (Bobo) for example, plays perhaps the film's most romantic role as he engages in a battle to win the heart of his babysitter Jessica (the wide eyed Tipton whose smile evokes a young Shelley Duvall) who is 4 years older than him.
Perhaps the movie works best when it occurs as individual vignettes, say Cal's crazy one night stand with insane teacher Kate (Tomei playing a dignified version of batshit crazy) is joyous to say the least and the always fantastic Moore turns Emily's scenes of quiet sorrow into complete acting courses.
Yet as it travels from Jacob's James Bond-ish house to Hannah's own disastrous affair with a sadsack colleague (played with enough douche baggery by Groban to make us root for Jacob) we realize that Requa and Ficarra can not, for the life of them, juggle smartly with so many characters.
The film feels as if they forget about some of their characters and then upon remembering their existence try to make them do something funny, cute or silly, as if to say "hey I'm still here". The plot has some serious time conundrums and you might find yourself surprised to realize that one year has supposedly gone by in the movie when it ends. Even if the performances are charming (Emma Stone's giant laughter is deemed to overthrow the reign of Julia Roberts') the film never feels particularly crazy, stupid or even romantic.
During the most inspired sequence in the running time, all the characters come together through a divine intervention that would've made Moliere giggle, during a single moment the entire film comes together perfectly and its theme of universality clicks as we realize that yeah, we're all on the same boat when it comes to lámour.
However the film keeps on going after this and the spark of magic it obtained is reduced to a series of preachy "we all can change and be forgiven" moments where once again the pain of individuality becomes too tedious to watch.