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Spoiler Alert: Happy Ending Ahead
by Mary Catharine Grau
Yes, romantic comedies are somewhat predictable – that’s why people love them. The good guy gets the girl. A lost job sparks a prosperous new opportunity. The dog returns home unscathed. Which is all okay with us. The familiar story lines warm our hearts and make us laugh. They feed our hope in humanity and our belief that, if we wait long enough, our life will unfold perfectly, as well.
We know what’s going to happen. Hollywood has given us every story under the sun, and most of them we’ve seen more than once. So what swings a romantic comedy from good to great?
When you can guess the ending, the fun is all in the getting there. A successful romcom has to give us unexpected twists and turns along the way.
On that basis, Crazy, Stupid Love certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s delightful – all two hours of it – because it’s not short on the unexpected.
Unexpected are the honest connections between the characters, and the creative unspooling of the happy ending. While we expect a friendship to develop between the Player (Ryan Gosling) and the Depressed Divorcé (Steve Carell), we don’t expect Steve Carrell to convincingly play a suave ladies man – and he does, surprisingly well. And many movies include the fast-swinging player stopped in his tracks by a beautiful, sassy woman. However, that sassy woman being the hero’s never-before-mentioned daughter is a nice twist.
One of the most unexpected highlights of the film is Jonah Boba, who plays Robbie, the 13-year-old son of Cal and Emily Weaver (Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore). With a delightfully witty and endearing performance, Jonah exemplifies the attitude that keeps us coming back to romantic-comedies: everyone has a soulmate and, someday, our love will bring us together.
But then, you knew that. As unpredictably predictable romantic comedies go, Crazy, Stupid Love definitely doesn’t disappoint.
A Chick Flick For Dudes
by Stephen Nowak
“Another chick flick.” That’s what I thought as I watched the official trailer for Crazy, Stupid, Love. Perhaps it was the shirtless Ryan Gosling — in a scene placed suspiciously near the end of the preview to win over the “chicks” — that sealed the deal for me. I had no plans to see this movie in the theater or otherwise.
Of course, I saw it anyway. And much to my surprise, the official trailer doesn’t do this movie justice. Turns out Crazy, Stupid, Love is NOT another story about a douchebag womanizer who inexplicably decides he understands love after falling for the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. And it’s NOT about his self-conscious co-star who envies the spoils of his womanizing sidekick from the sidelines. Instead, this is, in many ways, a love story for dudes.
When Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) separates from his wife after she cheats on him with her co-worker, he’s left asking, “Where did I go wrong?” Retreating to the bar like any man, Cal runs into young Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), who can use his slick style and natural swagger to charm any woman he lays eyes on into his bed. Jacob takes pity on Cal — his polar opposite — and takes him under his wing, compelling Cal to come to terms with a painful truth: that his wife cheated on him because he lost sight of who he was as a man.
As a married guy, I couldn’t help but identify with Cal’s attempt to “remasculate” himself. Under Jacob’s guidance, he reluctantly and clumsily tries to get back in the game, only to discover his wife is the only one worth playing for. And I couldn’t help but be reminded of the imminent end of my younger, wilder days — an end I swore would never happen — as Jacob discovers that all the women in the world will never measure up to the RIGHT woman, as he falls for Hannah (Emma Stone). I wanted to hate him, but couldn’t, thanks to a talented Ryan Gosling, who plays Jacob so naturally, I couldn’t help but respect him.
Then there’s Cal’s 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who took me back even further to the painful beginnings of my adolescence, as he falls head over heels for his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). Tormented and confused by his infatuation with a girl he can never have, Bobo brings an easy charm to a character most men have played at least once in their lives.
If you can handle the side plots, a few flat jokes, the crazy stupid trailer, Gosling’s abs, and a twist at the end that was a little too twisted, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a flick worth seeing — a flick for chicks AND dudes.