Crazy, Stupid, Love

Crazy, Stupid, Love

**

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The "love" on offer in this romcom that marks yet another notch of disappointment on Steve Carrell's career is neither crazy nor stupid, just cynical and schmaltzy by turns - an increasing trend in Hollywood that has seen "cynschmaltz" become far more popular than romcom. And if you've set your heart on some believable female characters, you're about to have it broken and served to you en flambe. Here the women are either having mid-life crises blinding them to their one true love, putting work before romance, jumping into bed with the first sleazeball charmer who asks them or falling in love with someone old enough to be their dad.

Carrell is the bumblingly boring dad Cal at the heart of the action, whose wife (Julianne Moore) has decided she might prefer the dubious charms of a work colleague (Kevin Bacon, doing his best to make playing Six Degrees of KB ever- more easy) over him. Ryan Gosling, on the other hand, is bed 'em and dump 'em lothario Jacob who, for reasons that never really become clear, decides to take the maudlin Carrell under his wing and teach him a thing or two about pulling women using a combination of flash, layered clothing and a steady stream of rather unpleasant cynicism. This is a tactic which all the women in this particular movie - having presumably been lobotomised by alcohol - think is attractive, although Jacob's six-pack is the sort of thing that might make you overlook other failings.

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Cal starts to do the bed 'em/dump 'em dance just as Jacob sparks up a relationship with Hannah (Emma Stone), which might just make him change his mind about emotional connections. Meanwhile, Cal's perky babysitter (Analeigh Tipton) is trying to work out a way of getting him to notice her crush on her while at the same time cooling the jets of his son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who keeps professing that she is his soulmate. This last subplot, in particular, is unbelievable from the outset - it is highly unlikely that any 13-year-old boy would have the bravery to admit he's in love with a much older teen, especially in front of others, and it's almost impossible to go along with the idea that, having been rebuffed, he would just keep trying. Also, if you imagine the roles reversed, so that it was a younger girl attempting to win the heart of an older male babysitter, some of the actions of the older child become very uncomfortable indeed.

After the doldrums and contrivances of the set-up, there comes a scene in the film - between Gosling and Stone - that makes you realise what could have been. Flipping some of the usual romantic 'first night' conventions on their head, it is at once touchingly sweet, wittily scripted and impressively shot. Sadly, this moment of balance is squandered all too quickly as Dan Fogelman's script slips into high-gear sentiment using one of the oldest cliches in the book - a valedictory speech - to give his characters emotional resolution. Wasteful of its cast - particularly Marisa Tomei's one-note teacher - over long and ultimately far too sugary, there is little here to go crazy about.

Reviewed on: 25 Sep 2011
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Crazy, Stupid, Love packshot
A man whose wife wants a divorce finds himself taken under the wing of a love 'em and leave 'em lothario.
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