‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ review

“Crazy, Stupid, Love” is an adult romantic dramedy (drama + comedy) that can be compared to love itself. It starts slowly and awkwardly with a few laughs along the way, then there’s a magic moment of inspiration where everything comes together. From there, everything works together harmoniously and just feels “right”.

Steve Carell (“The Office”) stars as Cal, a man married for 25 years to his high school sweetheart, Emily (Julianne Moore). When Emily declares on one of their date nights that she’s had an affair and wants a divorce, he’s instantly thrust into a mid-life crisis. He moves out of their house and begins to hang out at a local pick-up bar, but instead of hitting on women, he bores them with depressing stories of his wife and family. That’s when he’s tapped by ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who decides to help Cal by upgrading his wardrobe and game so he can take women home on a regular basis like he does. Meanwhile, Jacob faces a crisis of his own because contrary to his playboy reputation, he’s become infatuated with Hannah (Emma Stone) and wants a serious relationship, but has no idea how to do that.

Carell has transitioned nicely into a legitimate film actor and proves with this performance that he can do more than just comedy. Moore isn’t presented with anything challenging, but still does a nice job with her lonely wife character. Emma Stone (“Easy A”) also gives a good performance, and while I never was quite convinced with Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of a womanizer, his talent makes the performance credible enough. Strong supporting performances also are given by Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon and the teenage actors.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love” is that rare film that does a 180-turn midway through the film. Despite some brief moments of hilarity, the first half is a little boring and even worse, depressing. I did appreciate the deliberate buildup of the individual characters and seeing their love interests. I also enjoyed the Paul Thomas Anderson (“Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights”) vibe, but the characters didn’t interest me. The story has been told many times, and the plot was similar to “American Beauty,” only not as dark.

But then it all comes together in one magical, wonderful scene. I can’t describe it without giving away key points of the plot, but this one scene completely turned my opinion of the film around. The performances, dialogue and especially the timing of this scene make it a great movie moment, and I found myself smiling all the way to the movie’s end as a result. What at first was a mediocre run-of-the-mill divorce movie all of a sudden turned into a fun and original tale of how crazy and stupid people can be when it comes to love.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love”, 118 minutes, opens on Friday, July 29, and is Rated PG-13.