Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crazy, Stupid Love (2011) **

There’s something about Steve Carell that inspires confidence. Even though he plays the same schlubby nice-guy in almost every movie, he does it with such decency and adultness that it’s hard for me to think he would ever be in a bad movie. Combined with some good reviews I read, Carell’s presence led me into “Crazy, Stupid Love” with unrealistically high expectations. I think I was expecting something along the lines of “Punch Drunk Love” or maybe “Magnolia,” but what I got was a very typical Hollywood love story that starts out somewhat promisingly, but devolves into trite clichés. Carell plays Cal, a schlubby nice-guy whose wife Emily (Julianne Moore) announces over dinner that instead of dessert, she wants a divorce. Heartbroken Cal takes to hanging out at one of those bars with expensive drinks, where guys in nice suits pick up hot women, but he doesn’t fit in at all in his khakis and sneakers. Night after night he wallows in self-pity and girly cocktails, telling the bartenders and anyone else who will listen his sad story. Finally, Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a sharp-dressed ladies’ man, takes pity on Cal and offers to help him clean up his act. What follows is your typical makeover segment, where Cal gets new clothes, new hair, and a new attitude, followed by chicks. Meanwhile, the film sets up a goofy love hexagon, where Cal’s son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is in love with his babysitter, who is in love with Cal. Cal, despite his newfound success with multiple women, really wants his wife back. While she has some similar feelings, the guy she cheated on Cal with (Kevin Bacon) is pushing to become the new man in her life. While Cal sorts through all the madcap misunderstandings inherent in this type of movie, superstud Jacob meets his own form of romantic Kryptonite in the green-eyed form of Emma Stone. With such a great cast, I think I was justified in expecting more from “Crazy, Stupid Love,” and in fairness the first third of the film is fairly entertaining. Unfortunately, the excellent performances become strained as the increasingly contrived plot leads us from one cliché to the next. The best line in the film comes when Cal’s hopes of a reconciliation with Emily have just been derailed by one of those Hollywood Misunderstandings. As he watches her drive away, heartbroken, it starts to rain on him, and Cal cries out “What a cliché!” Unfortunately, the movie never manages to transcend those clichés. 2 stars out of 5

No comments: