Movies: "Crazy, Stupid, Love." | Arts & Culture

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Movies: "Crazy, Stupid, Love."
Movies:  "Crazy, Stupid, Love."

 

I had put off seeing this one, in part because of a personal aversion to previous Steve Carell comedies, with their humor so often based on humiliation of one sort or another.  (I can say the same for most of Ben Stiller’s oeuvre.)  

 

But I’m here to tell you that “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” (yes, the title really does have a period at the end) is a delightful adult comedy:  smart, funny, sophisticated and touching.

 

What’s interesting about this movie is its pedigree.  It was written by Dan Fogelman, whose prior movies were both in animation (“Cars” and “Bolt”), and was co-directed by Glen Ficarro and John Reque, whose last movie was the blink-and-you-missed-it tragi-comedy “I Love You Phillip Morris.”  (They also co-wrote “Bad Santa.”)  Despite those, shall we say questionable antecedents, they’ve teamed up with a stellar cast to give us one of the best comedies of the summer.

 

Cal (Carell) is in love with his wife of 25 years (Julianna Moore), but now she wants a divorce, telling him she slept with one of her co-workers (Kevin Bacon).  Their son, 13-year old Robbie (scene-stealer Jonah Bobo) is in love with his older baby-sitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), but she has a teenage crush on Cal.  And pert law student Hannah (Emma Stone) thinks her beau (Josh Groban) will propose to her, when all he does is offer her a position with his law firm.  Crazy, stupid love.

 

Poor Cal.  Now out of the house, he spends his nights in a swanky saloon, where a smartly-dressed patron named Jake (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on him and decides to turn him into a lady-killer.  In one of the movie’s many hilarious moments, Jake takes Cal shopping for everything from a better haircut to new shoes, then instructs him in the art of picking up women.  The secret: let them do all the talking.

 

As luck would have it, Cal’s first hit is on a lonely schoolteacher played by the fabulous Marisa Tomei, who turns into a tigress when he takes her home.  Before all the hook-ups and make-ups are over, we’ll find out what happens with every one of the star-crossed lovers in this large cast of characters.

 

And each of those characters has character.  Moore is excellent as a wife wondering if women can have mid-life crises, just like the men she’s seen in the movies.  Gosling (so good in “Lars and the Real Girl”) is terrific as the ladies’ man whose Henry Higgins routine with Cal is a thinly-veiled mix of contempt and compassion.  Tipton -- for once, a coltish young actress rather than the usual Hollywood teen temptress -- is a sweetheart.  And hats off to Carell, who plays Cal not as a buffoonish victim but rather as a caring,  intelligent man who can’t understand why his life has suddenly been turned upside-down.  And let's give a shout-out to veteran TV actor John Carroll Lynch, as Cal's buddy and Jessica's dad, who has ample reason to go ballistic.

 

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” is rated PG-13 for its adult situations and language.  (Unlike most recent Hollywood comedies, there are no vomit or defecation jokes.)  I highly recommend it for adults and precocious teenagers, and give this movie an A.

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