Sunday, 4 September 2011

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Crazy, Stupid, Love. [Review]


Opinion: B+

One of the rare examples of romantic comedies actually striding out of the comfort zone, dismissing genre templates and starts afresh with an interesting mix of characters and a narrative script. With some really engaging screen time driven by good chemistry between the characters as well as an unexpected twist at the end that really catches most of us off guard, this romantic comedy really deserves a watch despite its misleading title that suggests mediocrity.



At forty something, straight-laced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the dream--good job, nice house, great kids and marriage to his high school sweetheart. But when Cal learns that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his "perfect" life quickly unravels. Worse, in today's single world, Cal, who hasn't dated in decades, stands out as the epitome of un-smooth. Now spending his free evenings sulking alone at a local bar, the hapless Cal is taken on as wingman and protege to handsome, thirty something player Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). In an effort to help Cal get over his wife and start living his life, Jacob opens Cal's eyes to the many options before him: flirty women, manly drinks and a sense of style that can't be found at Supercuts or The Gap. Cal and Emily aren't the only ones looking for love in what might be all the wrong places: Cal's 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), is crazy about his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who harbors a crush on Cal. And despite Cal's makeover and his many new conquests, the one thing that can't be made over is his heart, which seems to keep leading him back to where he began.



In all honesty, I walked into a screening of Crazy, Stupid, Love. on a random weeknight thinking that it would just be, well, crazy, stupid, love.

It was as I expected, but in a much better way.

The directing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who've previously worked together on their highly acclaimed first feature I Love You Phillip Morris, delivered a delightful surprise with this exercise of the romantic comedy genre. With a title like Crazy, Stupid, Love. together with a rom-com genre categorisation, one can only expect certain traits and deliverables from this film.

Although the film does incite quite a few moments of laughter in the audience, surprisingly there's a lot more narrative drama at the core of the superb screenplay by Dan Fogelman (who also scripted Disney Pixar's Bolt and Tangled). Not only did the film allowed sufficient screen time to develop the respective characters well enough for the audience to connect with them, there is this sense of satisfying sincerity amidst all the scripted ingenuity.

It is more about the characters than anything else.

I can feel a very earnest cast performance, especially from Steve Carrell. Carrell's a man of slapstick comedy and is seldom taken seriously onscreen (which is the case here nevertheless albeit in a much lesser degree). This is easily one of the most honest performance delivered by a heartbroken Carrell (you don't see him with a long face often) that appealed vastly to the audience and proves his potentials beyond the typecast jester role.

The second prominent character is played by Ryan Gosling and his portrayal of an extrovert alpha male shelling a sorrowful lonely soul within, is one of a kind where it isn't over the top and feels plausible to me. You see, he sports this woody voice quality and often speaks in a relatively flat tone without the common playboy theatrics. Yet he's tastefully flirty and considered alluring to the Ladies with his small acts.

Of course, his subtlety ends with his "photo-shopped physique".

The other cast members have significantly reduced screen time due to the manner the screenplay desires them to be introduced and discussed onscreen. Still, they are memorable and lovable no less. Emma Stone impresses with what little's given to her role. Not forgetting the amazing Marisa Tomei whose minor role in the film stole every single bit of limelight with her presence (in contrast to the subtle Kevin Bacon who also guest appeared).

Even ANTM-turned-actress Analeigh Tipton gave a good performance (although a little mousey for my preference) as the teenage babysitter of the 13 year old son of Carrell, played by the hilarious and inspiring Jonah Bobo. Julianne Moore, like Stone unfortunately, isn't given a lot of screen time so there isn't a lot of opportunities where we get to see her shine.

The middle section of the film does feel a little draggy (like approximately 10-20 minutes over in length). It inevitably instills the premonition that the film will continue to self-indulge in its melodramatic characters and reach towards that all-too-familiar euphoric climax where everyone unravels their true blissful destination.

Not without a shocking twist that works really well at unsettling us as one of contemporary film history's most enjoyable moment of truth.

Much as I can't exactly explain the film's explicitly abstract title (other than an attempt at masking the film's real identity to fool the audience), the film really empties its heart out towards the audience in full honesty and appeals to us in both sentimentality and hilarity. This doesn't feel like a romantic comedy at all, rom-coms aren't like that at all. Most rom-coms want you to fall in love with them.

This feels like the film's all out in pursuit of its audience in a courtship.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.



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