Remember the last time you left a theater so hopped up that you wanted to urge all your friends to see a particular movie instantly, but still not wanting to spill the beans about the plot because it was so rewarding? Like the first time you saw “Little Miss Sunshine” in 2007 or “Juno” in 2008? Well I’ve got a new one you: “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
At first it seems like just another middle-aged-couple-bored-with-each-other-and-going-through-a-divorce movie. Gee, we’ve seen a zillion of those in the past few years. They usually star a few slightly older actors who can still draw a decent crowd, like Jack Nicholson or Jessica Lange or Harrison Ford.
But unlike those creaky old formula romances, this bright new film suddenly it takes off, following what seems like several different story lines about several different generations of people, each one as charming and courageously goofy as the last. And as the intricate tale tightens, the surprises begin to happen left and right, and the climax is simply brilliant, full of tenderness and recognition.
This romantic comedy drama has an ensemble cast that seems to have been put together in Casting Heaven. The leads are adorably cuckolded Steve Carell, smokey cuckolder Julianne Moore, and suave wingman Ryan Gosling, but everyone – absolutely everyone – adds depth to the story and delight to the beholder.
Three semi-newcomers stand out: old beyond his young years Jonah Bobo, starry-eyed teenager Analeigh Tipton, and healthy hottie Emma Stone. Toss in a pinch of Marisa Tomei (her funniest bit since “My Cousin Vinnie”), some watery-eyed Kevin Bacon, and stir with that naughty “Bad Santa” directing team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and you’ve got something to stew about.
The script was written (by Dan Fogelman) with real people wit instead of bathroom humor, and comes together so beautifully that you leave the theater with that glow of satisfaction you used to feel before most movies became nothing but dumbed-down vehicles for special effects.
This peachy hunk of cinema works on several levels, like the old Ron Howard classic “Parenthood” back in 1989. Young love and nearly-young love are explored hilariously, in a way I’ve never seen before. Middle-aged love with all its aches and pains is only heightened by Carell’s guy-next-doorness. And even the hip young dating scenes, full of twentysomethings too gorgeous to be alive even has a comic approach showcasing Gosling’s impressive talents. This guy is slicker than snot on a glass doorknob.
It is just so refreshing to see a film that is not about shallow and incredibly beautiful young girls who somehow fall desperately in love with ordinary guys who are either too fat, too stupid, too childish, or too terrified of commitment to merit existence. (Obviously, movies are made nowadays for the exclusive enjoyment of teenage boys, no matter what their age.)
Given that, you can understand why I’m so enthusiastic about “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Gosh, if all movies were as good as this one, I’d quit working for a living and take up writing movie reviews.
Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen