Crazy, Stupid Love
Cal (Steve Carell) is an oblivious Dad who complacently goes about his home life thinking everything is fine. Until the night he took his wife out to dinner and he asks her what she wants and she tells him she wants a divorce. After 25 years of marriage, raising children together, and no particular life traumas like severe disabilities: she just got bored, that’s all, and, oh, she also had an affair with someone in the office.
It’s a commentary on our contemporary culture that somehow this winds up being Cal ’s fault. He’s been inattentive. He’s taken her for granted. He’s no longer attuned to the latest fashions (though he’s not allowed himself to get fat). He’s lost his verve and his moxie and therefore he’s no longer appealing. He’s become uninteresting. (Never mind about the immorality of her infidelity.)
Cal , feeling sorry for himself, refuses to speak any more to Emily (Julianne Moore), whom he has loved since the 8th grade. As far as he’s concerned, there’s nothing left to talk about. Predictably, he moves out to an apartment, and she keeps the house and the kids. Perhaps just as predictably, he finds himself perched on a bar stool in a neighborhood watering hole, feeling sorry for himself. And then he meets Mr. Just Walked Off The Cover of Esquire Magazine, Jacob (Ryan Gosling). Jacob says that Cal needs a makeover: a tighter-fitting, younger-looking wardrobe, a new haircut, a new pair of dress shoes, a new swagger in his step. Cal, seeing Jacob’s incredible success with all the good-looking ladies at the bar, meekly complies with Jacob’s every suggestion, even submitting himself to the occasional “wake up” face-slap, and soon, under Jacob’s fascist tutelage, he has accomplished his own conquest, a sweet schoolteacher named Kate (Marisei Tomei) who happened to be turned off by his pitiful, paltry, cheesy pickup lines, but was positively turned on whenever he told the raw, painful truth. (This could be a whole ‘nother date movie in itself.)
Meanwhile, Cal ’s kids have their own problems, especially his 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who’s in turn obsessed with the 17-year-old baby-sitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who’s in turn secretly infatuated with Cal .
There’s no need to give away all the plot twists; suffice it to say that it wouldn’t be Steve Carrel without some slapstick humor, though he mostly plays this one Charlie Chaplin-esque, a Sad Sack who’s funny because he’s charmingly pitiful. The comic interplay of Emma Stone is refreshing; as is her drinking buddy Liza Lapira. But this one doesn’t want to be raunchy; at heart it’s got some very old-fashioned romantic ideas, namely, that there is one true love out there for everyone, and that the “soul mate” really is connected for life, regardless of whatever else happens. For a PG-13, some of the scenarios and sexual innuendos are pretty racy. It’s definitely not for small children. But if you’re a closet romantic, rooting for the oh-so-human couple with their problems to work out, and their issues to be addressed and impossibly reconciled, well, you’ll be happy to see “Crazy, Stupid Love.”
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas