Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) has been married to his high school sweetheart for 25 years. His world falls apart and he jumps out of a moving vehicle after his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) suddenly announces that she wants a divorce and confesses that she slept with another man. Meanwhile, good-looking ladies man Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) tries to pick up straight-talking Hannah (Emma Stone) in a bar but finds that his irresistible charms don’t work on her as she shoots him down.
After finding himself alone, and with no idea how to meet new people, Cal goes to the bar to drown his sorrows and grumble about the man his wife slept with, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). He sees how popular Jacob is with women and one night Jacob invites him over and offers to help him rediscover his manhood. The young bachelor seems to be an expert in the dating game and takes Cal shopping to buy new clothes, and to the bar so he can learn to be more confident with women.
At the same time, we see that those around Cal have romantic problems of their own and the film’s great ensemble cast feature in these different threads. Cal’s 13-year-old son Robbie is hopelessly in love with the 17-year-old babysitter Jessica, but she has a secret crush on Cal. His wife Emily is unsure of her relationship with her work colleague David. Jacob finds himself falling for Hannah, the one who briefly got away and makes him reconsider his womanizing ways. As all of these connected strands develop, Cal has to decide whether to move on or fight for the woman he loves.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris) and written by Dan Fogelman, who previously wrote the screenplays for a number of animations including Cars, Bolt and Tangled. He offers a fresh and witty script that avoids many of the pitfalls that spoil most modern romantic comedies. The characters are all likeable and the talented cast all give good performances. There is great chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, especially in the scene where their characters stay up for most of the night talking, and Gosling shows an aptitude for comedy. Steve Carell is also impressive, and I liked the funny subplot about Cal visiting the family home to secretly do the gardening at night because he had a nightmare that David Lindhagen was doing it.
The film is essentially about people finding their one true love or their soulmate. It identifies that some get lazy or complacent after years of marriage and advocates continuing to work hard at relationships to show how much you love someone. Although the rom com is one of my least favourite genres, I found this film engaging, sweet and a lot funnier than most recent offerings.
Crazy, Stupid, Love will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 30th.
DIRECTOR: GLENN FICARRA, JOHN REQUA
STARS: STEVE CARELL, RYAN GOSLING, JULIANNE MOORE, EMMA STONE, ANALEIGH TIPTON, JONAH BOBO, KEVIN BACON, MARISA TOMEI
RUNTIME: 118 MINS APPROX