You'll be glad you made the effort on a hot summer night.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


 

            Here is the summer movie every studio wishes it had made. Crazy, Stupid, Love is a lighthearted, funny, sometimes touching confection that will make you glad you made the effort on a hot summer night. The script delivers serial surprises that generate eruptions of laughter in an audience enjoying itself thoroughly. This is the one you're talking about when you see a Rosalind Russell/Cary Grant comedy from the 1940s and ask "Why can't they make one of these today?"
            Cal Weaver has it all: a great wife (Julianne Moore as Emily), good kids (watch Jonah Bobo as Robbie), a steady job, and a nice house. On a night out for dinner, Emily announces that she wants a divorce. As Cal approaches the rented moving truck, Emily says, "You have trouble in reverse; can I back it out of the driveway for you?" They know each other well.
            Cal spends his new time in a sophisticated bar full of beautiful women in five inch heels and the well dressed men who approach them. Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a poster boy for men's fashion, begins to observe the grieving sad sack Cal as he sits at the bar in his youth grunge - oversized Polo and New Balance. Moved by the scent of failure, Jacob decides to become Cal's Henry Higgins. He will teach him how to dress, how to talk, and how to pick up women in the bar. After Cal decides to cooperate, he discards his clothes along with that badge of mediocrity: the Velcro wallet. "Be better than the gap," Jacob intones with compassion.
            To simplify here, let's just say that the humor lies in the connections. The baby sitter loves the divorced dad who still loves his wife but in his own defense has an affair with a teacher (Marisa Tomei). The son of the divorced dad loves the baby sitter while his mom is having an affair with the office accountant (Kevin Bacon). And Jacob is eyeing Hannah (Emma Stone), an intelligent, newly minted, uncommon lawyer in the bar (Emma Stone.)
            Eventually we get a glimpse of the real life of Jacob the Womanizer. He reads cereal boxes while eating alone at the granite counter in his perfect stainless steel kitchen with a great view of rain pelting against the glass. All this leads to a masterful getting-to-know-you scene between Cal and Hannah. In a fine ensemble cast, Ryan Gosling is still a standout, followed closely by Emma Stone. They put a contemporary spin on the great verbal jousting of the '40s.
            The movie has touching moments at the same time it is plunging into a sea of preposterous solutions. Sensitivity meets slapstick. Somehow, the chemistry among those on the filmmaking team - directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, writer Dan Fogelman - captures both the comedy and the melancholy that runs through all these very decent people. They hand good material to a cast that knows exactly what to do with it.

 


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