Film Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

I’d completely forgotten about Crazy, Stupid, Love. It was just a DVD that sat on the shelf, one of a number that combine together to create a kaleidoscope of colour that pretends to be a modernistic approach to wall decoration. Or a constant reminder that I own and watch too many films.

Lost River, the directorial début Ryan Gosling is currently on a big screen release and Gosling is therefore, currently popping up for interview on the film podcast’s I listen to in the name of promotion and as is traditional for these audio features to attempt to stand out from the crowd and not just parrot-feed the same questions and answers, they expand their horizons and with Gosling having a starring role in Crazy, Stupid, Love it was thrust back into my radar and back into my DVD player.

My Fair Lady - DVD Poster

One-hundred percent honestly I’d forgotten everything about it as a film. Who it starred, what is was about, it’s twists, turns and jokes. Everything. And the first thing that hit me as I watched it was that I couldn’t really pin down exactly what type of film it wants to be. Is it teen comedy? romantic comedy? transformation tale? or a combination of everything and anything? And yet it all just adds together to work. To begin with I had almost a “light bulb moment” where I thought that it was a clever spin of the Pygmalion tale. The passing off and faking of who you really are in the pursuit of happiness and acceptance. But quickly this notion passed because the tale has so many more layers than just a simple reinvention story.

And then it hit me. It is exactly what it says it is. It’s a story about love. It’s a beautifully crafted tale that takes individual elements of love and lays them bare in bite size chunks. It takes a couple of characters contains them in their own little bubble and portrays each little bit. And the result is a film that doesn’t feel heavy, doesn’t feel preachy but feels inviting, satisfying and warm.

Sadly though, I need to clarify that while the idea and construction of the film is good, the actual plot isn’t. Well not that much. It goes through stops and starts when you can relate to characters, side with them, enjoy them, and get caught up in their emotions but then equally, and usually stronger, it’ll bring in a scene that leaves you feeling they are vain, disgusting, unreal, arrogant, silly. And it’s annoying because it’s always a case of the situation they are in suddenly being completely implausible. Born in a slight sense of truth but taken just that one step too far.

Steve Carell - Foxcatcher Transformation

People spoke about Steve Carell’s “transformative” performance in Foxcatcher, but for me he never looked anything other than Carell in a rubber mask, and in fact, at the start of this he looks so far removed from the Steve Carell you expect to recognise that it is a far, far greater transformation and even verges on the annoying. I was actually wondering at times if it really was Carell, that I hadn’t got names and faces muddled up in my head as to who I was expecting to see.

Turning to the rest of the cast; Gosling, who brought me back to the movie, grows into his part and won me over by the end, but for large parts of the film I just found him visually wrong. There is just something in his eyes that seems to suggest that he is somehow not convinced by his part. That he doesn’t truly believe in his character and almost, doesn’t want to be playing him. And because you sense that Gosling isn’t enjoying it, neither do you.

Julianne Moore works well in the serious parts but just feels uncomfortable with comic timing. The same nervous anxiety crosses her face that litters her performance in Evolution and while Emma Stone looks the part, you could almost replace her with any of Hollywood’s “good looking ladies in their twenties” and get the same result. Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo and their school yard crush is arguably the glue that holds the whole story together simply by feeling the most real and comically sustaining. It’s also the part that I think you can relate to most, as while we may deny it, or pretend otherwise, we all had that schoolboy crush on the older girl, even if it’d never play out as it does in the movie.

Analeigh Tipton & Jonah Bobo - Crazy, Stupid, Love

I enjoyed Crazy, Stupid, Love a lot more than I was expecting to. It’s obviously over real and comedic in design, and sadly while it’s not constantly funny, in fact, it only managed two major laugh out loud moments and a decent chuckle at the end, it simmers away perfectly to keep the sense that you could laugh at it when needed constantly inside you. It also doesn’t feel too long. It’s 2 hours, the modern film length it seems, but it’s an entertaining 2 hours and while I thought it did take a few extra steps at the end just to round up its points and close the open questions, I can forgive it because I wasn’t bored or wanting it over.

It’s a good movie that is beyond anything that would ever truly happen in real life, a story your mate tells down the pub about his “friend” that you conclude with “yeah whatever…”, but that doesn’t really matter because the film knows this and knows it needs to play to its strengths to keep you from uttering that expected comeback. And thankfully, it manages to do that.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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