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Belated Notes on "Crazy, Stupid, Love."

Christopher and a few other readers have been asking me for more detailed information about what I thought of Crazy, Stupid, Love. As daily readers know I was out of town when it opened and I ended up seeing it quite a bit after the fact which is not my preference, particularly not for a movie with so many actors I'm inordinately fond of. I saw it after the mixed reviews and after the hype had passed, which turns out to be the ideal time to see something that is relatively unassuming but so thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. 


Nothing about Crazy... reinvents or even reinvigorates the romantic comedy genre exactly but it's a great entry in the limited subgenre of the interlocking ensemble romances. You know the kind: teeming cast all with their individual romantic dramas and all of these short lovelorn stories end up connecting in coincidental ways, whether awkwardly forced, completely organic, or somewhere inbetween. Here we have the inbetween. But stack this up against recent movies of its ilk, and won't it look like a bonafide masterpiece?

Very little within Crazy... is entirely plausible but that's not always what we go to the movies for... and movies often thrive on exaggeration; They're shinier, funnier, prettier dramatizations of real life acted out by the shiniest funniest prettiest human specimens (i.e. movie stars). Usually in ensemble films the problem is that one storyline is much weaker than the others. Here, the high school students fill that slot but it's not so weak as to distract from the overall pleasure and Analeigh Tipton is kind of adorable. The best thing one can say for the screenplay aside from actually funny jokes (a new concept for romcoms!) is that the three tiers of romances: teenage, young adult, and middle age play out beautifully, respectively, as crazy naive (teenage hormones!), stupid sexy (yes Emma Stone & Gosling form a bond that's deeper than their physicality but that's the driving force getting them there), and in-love but weary (middle age and all the life experience / baggage that brings). You can argue that these stories are forcibly connected -- boy did I not see the central twist coming -- but I don't think you can argue that the thematic parallels aren't presented with something like nonjudgmental grace; movies that love their characters, flaws and all, are much easier to love that movies that condemn them.

Neither the direction (by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) nor the screenplay (Dan Fogelman) ever hammer the parallels home for the sake of "SEE!" but it ends up reflecting beautifully on different timetables of love, both in regards to the actual age of lovers and the timetable of love itself, which almost has to start with the crazy / stupid before it ever gets to the lived in capital L love.

Much credit has to go to the actors for smoothing over the movie's overstuffed feeling. Everyone does fine work here -- this might be the most relaxed Julianne Moore has ever been in comic mode -- making the standard tropes and predictable trajectories within the three stories feel like exciting journeys (since the destination is never exactly in doubt). Crazy, Stupid, Love. is the kind of movie I can imagine people finding again as they're flipping channels on TV for years to come. Like "Oh yeah, this one is so cute!"... *watches the rest of it*. It's not without flaws. On first view maybe it's a little too self-consciously wacky (comic hijinx!) or dumb (shades of Hitch) but it's just going to end up beloved with repeat views. B+

Gosling's Growing Character Gallery

P.S. I actually saw Crazy Stupid, Love. shortly after seeing Ryan Gosling doing a very very different spin on the unreachable soul behind a cool mask in Drive and wow, is that a fascinating twin snapshot on star power and acting range. Both of his new performances are beauties but what's more fascinating is how perfectly composed and still both characters are when held up to those emotionally ragged messy portraits of love or drug addicts from Blue Valentine or Half Nelson, respectively. Michael Fassbender may well be Gosling's sole living rival for Future of the Movies or Best of His Generation titles. I can't wait to see them fight it out for the crown this decade. How about you?

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Reader Comments (15)

Crazy to see Analeigh Tipton go from ANTM to all these movies. Real movies with talented people. Good for her.

I haven't seen this yet, but I work at a movie theater, and I have caught a lot of the scenes from the end of the film and BOY do those not work for me out of context. It seems like A LOT of plot contrivance to connect certain people. And the middle school graduation scene seems very forced. But, like I said, I haven't seen the whole thing.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

No RJ, I agree with you about the middle school graduation. And the big fight thing doesn't really work for me plotwise either, but oddly enough, I've got to agree with Nathaniel too: the movie itself on the whole works for me. Though probably the only thing that will stick with me long term is Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone's scenes together. Well that, and his gorgeous suits.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTB

from a young Nazi boy to a drug-addicted teacher, then from a guy in love with a sexy doll to a "in love man" and now from a stunt-driver, to a ladies' man, to a member of a political campaign, Gosling doesn't seem an actor at all but an "emboidments performer"! I mean... does anyone ever saw him alive? Because I'm starting thinking he's the male version of S1m0ne!

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Your grade for the film was about the same as mine. A nice, funny, lux time was had by me and my friends while watching it. It was inoffensive (with rom-coms these days, a rarity on that alone), funny, charming, a little sexy and very cute. I wasn't blown away but I did have a good time and I'm a hard one to win over with this genre.


Remember when there was a question a couple weeks ago about (roughly) what's the male equivalent to Bergman's Persona i.e. a penetrating psychological portrait of two intimate characters of the same sex? And then that reader topic about what Sofia Coppola should direct next and the answer almost unanimously being a psychological thriller/horror?

Well... since you brought up their names in that last paragraph, Nate, it clicked. This future dream psychological male version of Persona movie directed by Sofia Coppola... will star Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender.

Try not to let your cinema brain explode.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Although I won't argue with the good-natured feeling oft this (I even felt a bit badly for criticising it when I aw it) the entire film just seems to come off as a such a silly exercise I can't NOT roll my eyes at it. From the mixed-message make-over to the apparently only plot-propellant disinterest in the husband it just all seems forced even if the actors are thoroughly charming - Julianne and Ryan in particular are just lovely.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew KK.

no comments on MARISA TOMEI's amazing performance?

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterseasondays

season days -- i believe i said enough about Marisa's performance in that last Q&A column. Loved her (as usual)

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R


that's true...

although one can never talk enough about MARISA TOMEI

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterseasondays

Thank you. It was worth the wait.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher

Ryan Gosling is 80s-90s Sean Penn in his prime missing only maybe the roiling and wounded insecurity. In other words, the best we've got.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiscoNap

I just recently saw it. While I always admired Ryan Gosling for his acting, I never quite understood all the gushing about his hotness. Well, I'm now TOTALLY on board.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIvonne

How nice that you like Julianne Moore in it. Good to hear something positive about her on here again.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercinephile

cinephile -- oh come on? when have i ever been "anti" Julianne.

September 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

@ Mark - I don't know about Nat, but I think mine just did when I read your post (explode all over the floor, I mean.)

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

I think it could be an interesting three-way battle for Best Of His Generation: Ryan Gosling vs. Michael Fassbender vs. Tom Hardy.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArthur
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