By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
It’s hard to make a movie making fun of the conventions of a genre and still make a film that appeals to everybody. In fact, it’s probably impossible, as pandering to the masses is how you get conventions in the first place. Crazy, Stupid, Love gives it it’s best shot, though, and in brief moments of excellence maybe even succeeds.
What immediately drew me to this film was the cast, and they don’t disappoint. Steve Carell adds a cynical edge to his Dan in Real Life persona, and Julianne Moore does her usual excellent best for a character that’s a little flat. The real draw here, however, is the couple of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Stone tops herself every time we see her and Gosling is fast becoming my favorite working actor, period.
Yes, I know. Aren’t we past this?
He plays a schmoozing womanizer to the hilt and is aided by the most flattering transitions I’ve seen this side of a fashion model cameo. The script has its problems, but when it’s right it has moments of real heart and humor. Gosling and Stone’s “Dirty Dancing” scene combines all of this with a romantic comedy self-awareness that is just short of genius.
If the whole script had played at that level we really would have had something. Instead, Crazy, Stupid, Love trades wholesale in the conventions it makes fun of. The worst part are the walking stereotypes screenwriter Dan Fogelman fills out his character lists with, in particular Marisa Tomei’s nails on a chalkboard crazy woman act.
This might not make sense right now, but… Run.
Characters like her or Stone’s boyfriend are so far from recognizable human beings that the producers should have saved on the budget and just slapped tags like “unsupportive” and “manic” on some manikins.
I could have stretched that last one into a couple of beers, probably, but this one is for Steve Carell’s character’s son, Robbie (played by Jonah, wait for it… Bobo). I just don’t like his face.
I want to punch it. Holy shit, I want to punch it so bad!
The movie builds up to an excellent second act climax where all of the various plotlines smash into each other spectacularly. They should have just ended it there, or if they had to go all happy ending pick just one romance to satisfy us. Instead they go to the hackneyed graduation speech route and end on a note so saccharine sweet that it gave my teeth cancer.
There’s a very good movie hidden in here. If you care to dig for it or just want something to placate the mate, go for it.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Gosling takes a girl home
Take a Drink: every time Carell drinks when he’s depressed
Drink a Shot: every time someone goes for the verbal jugular
Drink an Extra Shot: when Robbie deletes his babysitter from his phone