What passes for romantic comedies these days is rarely either romantic or comedic. Wretched movies such as Life as We Know It and Something Borrowed insult the audience with terrible acting and lame writing. And while contrived plots are a staple of the genre (see Bringing Up Baby), the plots in most modern romantic comedies stretch credulity because the most important element – character – is so weak. When a film has well-developed characters, the audience doesn’t mind the unlikely coincidences or ridiculous situations – you’re along for the ride.
Such is the case with Crazy, Stupid, Love, a gem of a film driven by highly specific characters and tremendous acting from the entire ensemble which includes Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, and Marisa Tomei. Ryan Gosling kicked off his amazing season with this movie and he sparkles with wit and charisma as a successful lothario, Jacob, who takes newly separated Cal, played by Carrell, under his wing, telling him, “I’m going to help you rediscover your manhood. Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?” Sparring verbally with Stone as Hannah, a woman he describes to Cal as a “game-changer,” both actors absolutely shine as the breakout stars they are. Gosling’s character could not be any further away from his characters in Drive or The Ides of March, and he demonstrates his incredible range in this hilarious, sharp, yet beautifully sentimental movie that will cause even the most cynical viewer to feel moved.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is available on DVD from Netflix.