Saturday, August 20, 2011

At the Movies: Crazy Stupid Love

Nine times out of ten, the trailers spoil the movie. Yet when I went to see Crazy Stupid Love I was surprised to find that it offered more story and more layers than the previews had promised. Part romantic comedy, part drama, Crazy Stupid Love centers around Cal Weaver (Steve Carell), a nice-guy insurance salesman who's just been dumped by his wife (Julianne Moore). Depressed and alone, he starts haunting bars and spouting his sad story to anyone who will listen. Enter gorgeous, confident trust fund case Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). Taking pity on Cal and his lack of game, Jacob revamps Cal's wardrobe, brings him to a salon, and shows him how to chat up women in a My Fair Lady-style transformation. (Well, if My Fair Lady were a bromance.)

But then Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone), the "game changer." Just jilted by her dweeby lawyer boyfriend (Josh Grobin), a guy whose only charm was his security, Hannah sets out to do something reckless only to soften Jacob with the allure of her naivete.

Had things ended here, this would've been a different kind of movie. A more surface kind of movie. But Love isn't about easy hookups or black and white relationships that can be saved on the strength of grand gestures. It's about the gray areas and the complications and the parts that get left in between.

If I say too much I'll spoil it, but this cast of characters, which includes Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon, is unexpectedly intertwined, creating plot twists that are not only entertaining but that deepen the story. And although the ending is marked by a grand gesture, it's more a culmination of the many false starts that came before it than an out-of-the-blue deus ex machina.

Tender and thought-provoking, Crazy Stupid Love is about all the stuff we have to go through to find and keep our soul mates. Yet it's spiked with just enough humor to prevent it from taking itself too seriously.

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