Having tried their luck with dark comedies like Bad Santa and I Love You Phillip Morris, directors Glen Ficarra and John Requa decided to take a shot at the romantic comedy/drama genre. Crazy, Stupid, Love was billed as a light, romantic comedy with moments of real life drama existing, but the actuality of it was flipped.
Crazy, Stupid, Love was much more of a romantic drama with real life comedy dropped in occasionally. It was Steve Carell‘s chance to play a more serious role and it was Ryan Gosling‘s moment to regain the trust of all those young ladies by taking off his shirt again and playing the heartthrob. Add supporting player’s like Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Julianne Moore and Kevin Bacon and you got a studio film that isn’t afraid to take risks and become a little dark and depressing when needed.
Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is your typical middle-aged male. He’s a dad and a husband, working away at a day job to pay off the mortgage and take his wife out to fancy restaurants that they otherwise probably can’t afford. His relationship with his kids is great while his relationship with his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) isn’t so great. He’s stuck in the midlife rut that tons of adults fall into, but his problem is that he’s content and completely fine with everything. Emily drops a bombshell on him while they are deciding on dessert and his whole world is turned upside down.
His wife slept with a co-worker by the name of David (Kevin Bacon) and his son is deeply in love with the teenage babysitter; who’s actually in love with Cal. After moving into a small apartment Cal ends up at a bar like most men where he continues to drink himself silly while telling other random people his whole life story. Hotshot Jacob (Ryan Gosling) notices Cal’s sad little story while picking up several ladies for the evening. Out of kindness or pity (you choose) Jacob offers to help Cal reinvent himself.
Crazy, Stupid, Love starts out like your average studio romantic comedy, but instead of keeping things funny and light it quickly takes a dive off the deep end into depressing and dark territory, which is a sigh of relief. I was worried that this was going to be The 40 Year Old Virgin, minus the raunchy humor and plus tons of genre clichés, but that’s not the case at all. The setup between Cal and Jacob is light and funny, but Cal’s self-discovery and understanding and appreciation towards his family and life isn’t all roses and sunshine. He has to hit rock bottom before he can start climbing up and it’s not an easy journey.
Steve Carell does a great job taking a semi-predictable role and making it something special. The comedy bits are easy and Carell breezes through those scenes, but it’s the emotional stuff that he really nails. Cal doesn’t find his old self overnight and calls it a day. It takes some searching and Carell doesn’t seem to have a problem tracking through the mud to get there. His character comes full circle by the end, learning what it truly takes to make a relationship thrive for both parties.
The film is full of some big name stars that all have their moments, but this really is Carell’s film. Ryan Gosling plays the ladies’ man that discovers love. The beginning of the film is his usual routine of small talking pretty dames into his bed without hesitation, but once he finds love everything is suddenly stopped and all that confidence he’s gained goes right out the window. Gosling has no problem changing up the characters aspects on relationships. He’s cocky, charming and funny in the span of an hour and a half. His chemistry with Carell is one of the films highlights. Watching the two of them exchange glances, jokes and even punches is often times hilarious.
Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Julianne Moore kind of skate by on doing what they do best. Stone tones down her usual self for more of a hopeless romantic that plays it way too safe. Tomei has a smaller role then the trailers might lead you to believe, but she’s nutty and funny whenever she’s on screen. Moore’s a bit depressing and that’s mainly because of her character. Emily starts out the film admitting that she’s cheated, so you don’t initially feel much for her, but as the film moves on you do get a peek at her emotional stage as well as Cal’s and by the end of the film you do start to see where she was coming from in the first place, although cheating is never something that should be condoned.
Last but not least is Kevin Bacon, who plays the home-wrecker, David. He’s much funnier than his usual self mainly because of his interactions with Emily’s kid. David also has a chance to display some of his emotions. He’s the guy that fell for his co-worker and now that she wants a divorce he’s hoping to squeeze in and become the new main attraction. He’s constantly being treated as just a friend or the bad guy who ruined things, which is understandable but also kind of sad.
The true stars are directors Glen Ficarra and John Requa. They have absolutely no problem crossing over into the depressing state of relationship breakups for the middle portion of the film. They allow for the viewers to soak in all of the negatives that come from divorces and people cheating on each other. You really get a better understanding of how shitty life can be once something like this happens, but then you get a strong sense of how love works. They balance the dark and depressing break-up with the rekindling of a relationship full of a love and meaning.
There’s also a clever third act twist that sneaks in without much notice. Those paying attention could probably piece it together, but if you went in unsuspecting like me you’ll probably enjoy what they have in store for you. It ties the whole story together in a clever way that doesn’t feel forced or too phony.
But that’s where the film starts to drag its feet. It builds up a strong drama with plenty of comedy and romance aspects, thanks to its directors and cast and then it tightens things up with a twist that’s rewarding and unexpected, only to be followed by another 20 or 30 minutes of repetitive forgiving. Ending it at the twist or shortly after would have made Crazy, Stupid, Love one of the better films of the past summer, but continuing it well past its prime makes it lose a lot of steam.
It makes you leave on a low note; not necessarily a bad note, but a note that should have been high. I wanted to leave Crazy, Stupid, Love impressed. I wanted to be able to easily recommend it to all of my friends and family, but that wasn’t how I felt. I’d easily recommend the first 3/4th’s of the film to just about anybody, but once the twist takes place the film loses its focus and it loses it rather quickly. Things become dull and boring in a hurry, with little room for closing improvements. By that point you know exactly how it’s going to end and you don’t want to sit through anymore character speeches.
That’s the film’s only real problem though. If the end could have been tweaked a little more than it could have really prospered. Even with its flaws Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a lot better than you’d think. The cast is led by two directors with lots of range. It’s funny, sad, depressing and uplifting all in one.
Believe it or not, romantic comedies/dramas are some of the best looking films on Blu-Ray. Warner Brothers has no problem transferring the film to Blu-Ray with a very fine and detailed 1080p video transfer. These films rely on characters and emotions to help tell the story, not expensive action sequences or explosions, so lots of time is used to focus on the characters speaking with each other, which makes you as a viewer notice things like skin textures and background colors a lot more. Black levels are deep, skin tones are natural and colors are for the most part cool and collected. The only real problem with this transfer is that it’s a tad too dark at times, which results in details not being as good as they could be.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is a dialogue heavy film and the 5.1 DTS-HD track gets the job done. Dialogue is heard without interruption on the front channels while the back channels act as the environment, constantly surrounding you with noises. The club scenes sound the best, with Gosling and Carell on the front channels and the rest of the party chatter coming across the back channels, but when the film is more focused and silent it still impresses. This track isn’t going to impress most people, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
The only weak things here are the special features. There’s not many of them and they’re short, but at least there in HD. Check them out below.
- Deleted Scenes (HD): A decent crop of deleted scenes that would have only weighed the film down.
- The Player Meets His Match (HD): A brief look at the characters and how the cast dealt with similar situations in real life.
- Steve and Ryan Walk Into a Bar (HD): Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling talk, joke and have fun at a bar, another short feature.
- DVD Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Crazy, Stupid, Love. is probably one of the safest rentals I can recommend. The problems that the film does have are easily dismissible when it comes to renting or viewing the film in home. You’ll enjoy the film right up until after the twist and then the film will slowly start to decline, causing you to lose awareness or interest, but when that happens you can just stop the film. You already got the gist of it and you know exactly where it’s heading, so why waste the last 20 minutes finding yourself bored? It’s also a lot easier to dismiss the ending flaws when you’re watching the film on the couch opposed to a crowded theater on a Saturday night. The blow is definitely softened when you only have to pay a couple of bucks opposed to $10 or $15, plus concessions.
The Blu-Ray is great. The video is soft, sometimes dark, but usually clear. It has a reliable 5.1 DTS-HD audio track that isn’t loud or explosive, but fine for the dialogue. The special features are lacking, but most fans of the genre aren’t seeking extras. That still isn’t really an excuse though because Carell and Gosling display lots of chemistry in the film and in the brief special features, so why not show more of that? The DVD copy and UltraViolet digital copy are pluses for sharing with the family or watching on a plane, although I think it’s a bit too depressing for a plane ride when vacationing.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is better than it looks, but it still has a few minor problems that really hold the film back from being something excellent and fully worthy of checking out. The cast does a fine job and the directors show there understanding for the genre by taking it serious and giving the film a proper array of emotions and depth. It’s one that most married couples should enjoy or at least appreciate and it’s got enough laughs and universal situations to appeal to just about anyone.
Crazy, Stupid, Love takes a tumble after the twist and never manages to restructure itself, causing it to end in a boring and repetitive state.