Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Screenwriter: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei, Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo
Well-written and lavishly-casted romantic comedies have been somewhat hard to find in recent years. The most memorable rom-coms of all time are positioned neatly in the nineties alongside the majority of Hugh Grant’s repertoire. Finding something just as satiating, quirky and actually funny comes as a bit of a surprise, but Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a satisfying example.
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Crazy, Stupid, Love. follows a series of interlinked romances, spurred on by the divorce of Cal and Emily Weaver, played by Steve Carell and Julianne Moore respectively. A heartbroken Cal is approached by Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who insists he start picking up women at a bar to get over his loss. Despite his newly-discovered soar in confidence, Cal remains deeply in love with his childhood sweetheart and attempts to win her back from the arms of her new beau, David (Kevin Bacon).
Gosling and Carell share a mesmerising chemistry that strongly holds the backbone of the film and its narrative. Jacob’s wit and poise are the ideal antidote to Cal’s dull and dispiriting nature as he teaches Cal his nightly routine at the bar. Although performed as a slightly problematic deed – insisting that ‘the routine’ works on every single woman – this does not discourage the true messages of the film and only exists as an extraneous part of the plot. Gosling and Carell share some extremely funny and candid scenes, with a particular highlight being a shopping trip – Jacob’s disgust at Cal’s Velcro wallet is priceless. Their fraternal bond grows over a period of weeks as Jacob supports Cal’s re-introduction to the dating scene. What unfolds is wholesome and incredibly entertaining.
While bettering Cal, Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone), who initially rejects his advances – a first for Jacob. Later on, law school graduate Hannah is expecting her boyfriend Richard (Josh Groban) to propose, but is hurt and offended when instead he offers her a position at his law firm. Rejecting his offer, Hannah returns to the bar and – soaked with rain – passionately kisses Jacob, igniting their love affair. Crazy, Stupid, Love. is the first pairing of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a feature film, which inspired their reunion for Gangster Squad in 2013 and La La Land in 2016. They flawlessly work in harmony and consistently offer inspiring, genuine portrayals of their characters. For Jacob and Hannah, their romance is open and authentic, changing Jacob’s perception of relationships and what he wants from love. Although he tries his usual tricks with Hannah, their attempt at having sex is so awkward that they end up drinking and talking all night long, spilling their deepest thoughts and wishes. This gorgeous exploration of the pair’s love is synonymous to the heartfelt rom-coms of the early millennium; it’s unrestricted and sincere, a true representation of falling deeply in love.
Simultaneously to the blossoming of Hannah and Jacob’s relationship, Cal begins to struggle after his realisation that all he wants is Emily. It takes Cal sleeping with nine other women for him to realise that it won’t bring him happiness; that’s just not who he is; he’s a family man and instinctively loyal to his children and his wife; the bachelor lifestyle gave him a short-term boost, but a long-term change in perspective. This is a key element of the film’s overall standing point. The protection of the ‘Nuclear Family’ is a poignant part of classic American cinema, utilised most often in seasonal and holiday films such as Miracle on 34th Street and Sleepless in Seattle. Cal’s ultimate goal is to protect and prevent the breakdown of his family, which is why it’s even more moving when Cal gives Jacob his blessing to date Hannah, who is revealed to be Cal’s daughter. Accepting Jacob as an extension of his family is paramount to upholding these conveyed American values and extends that feeling of love further than simply romantic affection.
A final part of Crazy, Stupid, Love. to give praise to would be the unrequited love of Robbie and Jessica. Hannah’s younger brother Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is infatuated with his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who secretly has a crush on Cal. Robbie’s frequent and sometimes bold efforts to win Jessica’s heart are unbelievably cringe-worthy but sweet in their hopelessly devoted way. Robbie’s expressions of love conjure memories of childhood crushes and the naivety of young love, when everything was led by fairy tales and the rich belief that if you wished hard enough and made some grand gesture, then your crush would instantly become yours. Jessica, however, is not swayed by Robbie’s sweet and innocent nature and tries her luck at winning Cal’s heart – a man who is at least twenty years her senior. Her daring attempt at seducing him is a want-to-look-away-but-just-can’t moment, just one of many of these instances throughout the film.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. offers up a group of delicious romances. Flavoursome in their performances, writing and direction, the interweaving characters support a hearty tale of love, loss and recuperation. Often difficult to find in a modern romantic comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love. executes the complexity of love in such a beautiful and rewarding manner.