Whether its the fact that Crazy, Stupid, Love.‘s star-crossed lovers who can’t seem to get together because of who they are, the mix of heart-wrenching dramatics with near slapstick humor, or the many cases where just the right song from unknown indie band or a deep album cut from a popular band scores the moment on screen perfectly, this film reminds me of late 80s, early 90s Cameron Crowe.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing, unless, of course, you can’t stand Crowe’s output from Say Anything to Jerry Maguire. I happen to like those films and when that style works, as it does here, I think it makes for an entertaining film.
The movie begins with Cal (Steve Carell) being asked for a divorce by his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore). The couple were childhood sweethearts, and were married at 17, so Cal is ill-prepared to enter the dating scene. Luckily, he catches the eye of Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a young pick-up artist who’s a hit with the ladies. Jacob helps Cal find his inner mojo, but will it be enough so Cal can win Emily back? Does he even want to? And what kind of complications arise when the player finally finds the one girl he want to spend all of his time with in the quirky Hannah (Emma Stone).
There’s a lot to like about this film. It’s a well constructed movie with many carefully crafted scenes that involve the audience. It is perfectly cast, with every actor playing their roles to perfection. Granted, you have Steve Carell playing a sad sack, a role he can do in his sleep, but I never pictured Ryan Gosling as being that much of a ladies man before this film, but I do know. Especially good are Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei in glorified cameos. Their work in this film is proof of the adage that there are no small part, only small actors. Both light up the screen whenever the show up. Bacon plays what could easily be the villain of the piece but makes the character geeky and human. And Tomei goes from needy and vulnerable to righteously angry without ever falling into parody.
The writing is great as well, as Dan Fogelman is brave enough to use foreshadowing without drawing too much attention to it. There is quite a big reveal during the third act that was set up in the preceding scenes yet still caught me by surprise. The dialogue always sounds realistic and the plot point always ring true, even when the film finds its way into out and out farce in the third act.
There are a lot of great moments in the film, a lot of great characterization and a lot of great writing in the film. It’s a good alternative to the summer blockbuster.