What to say about an uphill slog called Crazy, Stupid, Love? It’s not nearly crazy enough to clear the clogged arteries of summer comedies, and when the love appears, it’s in all the wrong places. Oh well, at least they nailed the stupid part.
This movie is so hapless that not even two directors could get it right. Guided with a sledgehammer by the team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and written with a No. 2 soft-lead kindergarten pencil by Dan Fogelman, this snore stars a number of talented people who should have known better. After 25 years of marriage, square suburban doofus Cal (Steve Carell, who invents these roles as vehicles, and produced this one to prove it) is devastated to learn that his wife, Emily, (Julianne Moore) is committing adultery with her boss (Kevin Bacon) and filing for divorce. Their creepy 13-year-old son is in love with his 17-year-old babysitter, but she’s in love with Cal, who doesn’t know it. Drowning in self-pity, Cal lands in dating hell, hanging out at a local bar for the depressed and displaced, sipping vodka and cranberry with a straw. A supercilious stranger and self-anointed King of the Babe Magnets named Jacob (a dismally miscast Ryan Gosling) says, “I don’t know whether I should help you or euthanize you,” but takes on the task of helping Cal get his mojo back while sticking him with a bar bill for $837.
This is the kind of movie in which real men drink scotch instead of Cosmos and wear suede instead of Ralph Lauren. After all the counseling and all the hours at the gym and the new wardrobe, the woman Cal chooses to try out his new sex appeal is Marisa Tomei, who turns out to be his son’s eighth grade English teacher. Meanwhile Jacob, who is supposed to be all man (but with a weakness for buying things on the Home Shopping Network), blows his own cover when he meets a girl he calls a “game changer,” played by Flavor of the Month Emma Stone. It’s the first time he’s ever taken a woman to bed and talked himself to sleep. Of course the “game changer” turns out to be the movie’s only big surprise. I’d be a cad to reveal her identity before you have a chance to head for the doors marked “Exit.” From here, this thumping snooze rattles and woofs its way into a crazy quilt of mistaken identity with almost the entire cast punching it out in a massive donnybrook in Cal’s back yard, where he sometimes shows up in the middle of the night to water his old rose bushes. Before it all ends at a junior-high graduation that has to be seen to be believed, they all grow up, learn to be better people and discover the true meaning of love in a finale that can only be described as utterly preposterous.
None of this is much fun to watch. The pace drags. The acting is without contrast or color. Farce is not Ryan Gosling’s style; he looks like he’s coming down with something contagious. Steve Carell plays this kind of nerdy, squarely dressed, aging dweeb in his sleep. He has a patent on the role, but hasn’t got a clue about how to make it look anything more than ossified. Crazy Stupid Love is an alleged comedy comprising currents of disconnected irony. For it to work those threads should meet in some believable fashion. Instead, they unravel faster than the drawstring on a pair of 32-inch gym shorts worn by a man with a 42-inch waistline.
CRAZY STUPID LOVE
Running time 117 minutes
Written by Dan Fogelman
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore