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Nordling Says CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE Is A Mixed Bag!

Nordling here.

The worst reviews to write are for mediocre films.  I hate writing them.  Movies that are terrific, or uniformly awful?  Those are easy to write.  But movies that are just dead air, cotton candy, with no solid center to them, it seems hardly worth the effort to write about them.  There are aspects of the film that are worth seeing, and then there are parts of the film that bring it down.  It's all a wave, and in the end you leave feeling pretty much the same as when you started.

CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE, when it works, is genuinely funny and even a little heartwarming, but much of my good will towards the film evaporated on the way home.  The film is full of what I'd call "first world problems", with characters whose inner and outer struggles don't seem to carry much weight in these troubled times.  It's about a marriage ending, and a new relationship beginning, and how those two things collide and intersect makes up much of the plot of the film.  But the film is also full of plot contrivances that simply don't happen in the real world, and one too many coincidences sink the film.  I'm not one of these "turn off the brain" types when watching a movie, and as more unlikely scenarios popped up on screen, it became more difficult to relate to the characters and the situations.  Much of CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE is funny, but it's not honest where it counts.

Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have had 25 years of marriage together, and three children.  But Emily's having a personal crisis and wants out of the marriage, and Cal complies.  As Cal is forced back into the single life, Emily begins an on-and-off-again relationship with a co-worker (Kevin Bacon).  Ladies' man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on Cal after seeing Cal mope in a club and decides to "Miyagi" Cal on the dating game.  Hanna (Emma Stone) is just about to pass the bar, but her boyfriend (Josh Groban) isn't ready to commit to a long term relationship.  But she does hold some interest in seeing this guy, Jacob, who she met, even though he is something of a jerk.  Jacob is very attracted to her; perhaps there's something about her that would make him want to quit his single lifestyle.  And then there's Cal's son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) who is drastically affected by Cal and Emily's divorce and is just exploring what love really means for the first time.  He has a huge crush on his babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) but that crush goes unreturned as she's 4 years older than him, and he's only 13.  All of these relationships and friendships will come together in the end, and who stays with who, and who doesn't, is for the audience to discover.

The best scenes of the film deal with Carell and Gosling as Gosling tries to teach Carell the ropes of the single life.  They have a comedic rhythm together that works.  What's not so good are the huge coincidences that seem to drive the plot, and without spoiling, there's one in particular that sets up the third act of the film that set me on edge.  It's telegraphed in the film, and I probably should have seen it coming, but I didn't, so it did catch me by surprise, but it's one of those convenient plot twists that wraps everything in a nice bow, and for the casual filmgoer they may enjoy it, but I didn't buy it.  One character in particular, Kate (Marisa Tomei, who really is funny in the part) becomes Cal's first real date after the separation, and she's established as an alcoholic in recovery, but she seemingly goes to bars to meet guys, which didn't make much sense.  

Julianne Moore seems to pay far more for her transgressions than Steve Carell does for his - it's the same old double standard that we see all the time in films like this.  The girl sleeps around once and she's a whore.  The guy sleeps around a ton of times and he's a stud.  Granted, the way Carell transforms from lonely ex-husband to barhopping ladies' man is funny, but upon reflection he doesn't pay for his actions.  The scene where Cal finds out what Kate does for a living is hilarious, but again, it's humor based on one of those plot coincidences that happen all the time in sitcoms but never in real life.  Much of CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE feels like television, but not the good kind.  

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have done great work before with I LOVE YOU, PHILIP MORRIS, and they can't take much of the blame, as they manage to get good performances from everyone across the board.  No, it's Dan Fogelman's script that lets this film down.  This is a romantic comedy, so some liberties must be taken, but each situation becomes more unbelievable as the film progresses, and by the end of the movie I didn't buy what the film was selling.  It's got a sweet heart to it, and CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE means well, but too many breaches in logic make the film a definite middle-of-the-road movie for me.

Nordling, out.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 28, 2011, 10:35 p.m. CST

    If you care about the characters, every little thing carries weight

    by golden tribw

  • July 28, 2011, 10:39 p.m. CST

    re: huge coincidences that seem to drive the plot

    by golden tribw

    Kind of like (Paul Haggis's) CRASH? I enjoyed it in theatres but I didn't have to watch it a second time, only think about it for about 10 minutes, to fully grasp how silly and overwrought the whole thing was. And the framing of the entire thing as a flashback predicated on a silly voiceover soundbite about subconsciously-intentionally crashing cars to physically connect was really, really ridiculous. I had high hopes for CRAZY STUPID LOVE as the one comedy I would really enjoy this year so far. I wonder whether I will agree with you. I am usually a sucker for Julianne Moore.

  • July 28, 2011, 10:40 p.m. CST

    Carell's expression in the poster...

    by Nasty In The Pasty EXACTLY what I'd look like if Marisa Tomei were flashing her vag at me.

  • July 28, 2011, 10:41 p.m. CST

    Case of good script, meh movie

    by tatoosh

    Being dragged to this this weekend by the wife. I haven't even lived it yet, and I've forgotten it already. The movie poster should just say in bock generic letters "date movie for married people" like the old beer cans that just said "beer".

  • July 28, 2011, 10:45 p.m. CST


    by tatoosh

    Attack the bock. edit feature.

  • It might be pretty solid.

  • July 28, 2011, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Every movie featuring Kevin Bacon as a tertiary character

    by tatoosh

    Is just doing it to win at the six degrees game. Or throw him a bone for being screwed over by Madoff. Good reasons either way says me.

  • They do nothing for me as far as comedic talent.

  • July 29, 2011, 12:27 a.m. CST

    Emma Stone is the best young actress around these days

    by SmokingRobot

    But even her being in this is not enough to make me watch it.

  • July 29, 2011, 12:31 a.m. CST

    Uh, isn't the title of this film just

    by HelveticaBOLD

    "Crazy Stupid Love"? Who had the sale on commas, Nordling?

  • July 29, 2011, 12:44 a.m. CST

    Emma Stone is verging on overexposure.

    by F-18

    What 5-10 movies will she be in later this year?

  • July 29, 2011, 12:59 a.m. CST


    by Warren

    My wife is going to make me watch this eventually, all I can say is AH!

  • July 29, 2011, 2:08 a.m. CST

    What is wrong with you Nordling?

    by one9deuce

    Why on earth would Steve Carell's character have to "pay for his transgressions"?! His wife wanted out of the marriage, she wanted to be single, which obviously makes him single. You don't have to answer to anyone when you're single. Do you live in some ball-less alternative universe where your wife can leave you and you're not allowed to have sex with anybody for the remainder of your life? Give me a fucking break.

  • July 29, 2011, 3:04 a.m. CST

    CHLOE 2

    by Fridge

    Starring Julianne Moore and Emma Stone. Make it happen.


  • July 29, 2011, 5:37 a.m. CST

    Yeah, Nordling - Explain that, please.

    by FluffyUnbound

    What, exactly, does Cal have to pay for? That seems like an oddly puritanical thing to say about a movie. "Strangely, in INDEPENDENCE DAY Will Smith never pays for his transgression of dating a filthy stripper, who never pays for her own transgressions of dancing for money or having an out-of-wedlock bastard, either." - Nordling WTF?

  • July 29, 2011, 6:55 a.m. CST

    Jonah Bobo is an awesome name

    by Spandau Belly

    I wish I were Jonah Bobo. I wasn't going to see this movie anyway.

  • July 29, 2011, 7:46 a.m. CST

    is Emma Stone playing Moore/Carrell's daughter?

    by professorjack

    she looks so much like she could be the offspring of both of them

  • July 29, 2011, 8:05 a.m. CST

    Steve Carell Is A Great *SUPPORTING* Actor/Character

    by Graphix67

    Plain and simple, he should not be a lead.

  • Jonah Bobo. Jonah Bobo. Jonah Bobo. Just this soft, insistent voice in my head, drowning out my attempt to read the rest of the review. I can't focus on anything else. And why would I want to? Jonah Bobo is enough. Jonah Bobo.

  • July 29, 2011, 8:57 a.m. CST

    You're wrong about the Double Standard on this...

    by Iudex

    In today's movies a Man who sleeps around is scum and a Woman who sleeps around did it becuause the man wan't "There for her"...

  • July 29, 2011, 9:59 a.m. CST

    Marisa alcoholic logic...

    by Chris Saturia

    I'm sure that's part of the comedy of the film. A recovering alcoholic goes to bars to meet men...its a punchline...doesnt need to make sense in the real world...

  • July 29, 2011, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Julianne Moore CHEATS on Steve Carell...

    by TopHat

    ...It is NOT a "double standard": Moore's character cheats on Carell's WHILE they are still married and not separated. What IS a double standard is excusing a WOMAN for cheating on a man in a marriage as "having a personal crisis" and the man who has been cheated on having sex with other women during the separation as somehow being worse or equal to what the woman did. If you want to suck up to your wife, Nordling, pick another way of doing it other than in your reviews.

  • July 29, 2011, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Gotta Agree With Tophat


    They are separated, and from what I've read Moore's character clearly doesn't want to be in the marriage at the outset . . . it sounded to me like Carell's character is abandoned by Moore's. After that, he should have moral carte blanche to sleep with anybody who wants to sleep with him, and it will never be as bad as what Moore did, even if he sleeps with a dozen different women.

  • July 29, 2011, 11:41 a.m. CST

    Tophat is correct.

    by Iudex

    I Immediately didn't want to see this movie because that double standard was obvious in the preview.

  • July 29, 2011, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Why should he "pay" for his actions? She left him.

    by ThrowMeTheIdol

  • July 29, 2011, 4:33 p.m. CST

    So, does Car-El bang the babysitter?


    That WOULD be a transgression.

  • July 29, 2011, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Only want to see this one for the ladies:

    by Orbots Commander

    Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei and of course, the adorable Emma Stone.

  • I really hope not, because I really don't want to see this.

  • July 29, 2011, 9:15 p.m. CST

    Here's a real rundown of this movie...

    by TopHat

    ...Cal and Emily are at dinner, she YELLS that she wants a divorce, because, you know, women are emotional and that's cute... ...On the drive home, Emily is driving and berates Cal for not saying anythng to the fact that she has cheated on him with a guy from work named David. Cal jumps out of the moving car. At home Cal and Emily's kids Robbie and Molly are being babysit by Jessica who is four years older than Robbie. Jessica walks in on Robbie masturbating. Robbie declares his love for her. This freaks her out. Cal and Emily get home, and Cal says they're getting a divorce. Jacob is at a bar hitting on women, but it doesn't work with Hannah, so she makes fun of him for using women in this way ...even though it actually works in getting them to go to bed with him. But, you know, we shouldn't point that out. Cal goes to the bar Jacob works at where Cal and Emily's friend Bernie, who is Jessica's father, comes to tell Cal that he and his wife "pick Emily". This is supposed to be funny. Jacob takes Cal under his wing and teaches him the things that gets women to have sex with him. Cal uses these skills to get Tomei to have sex with him, along with a lot of other women younger than him ...but you know, women don't really fall those kinds of "game" things... Cal and Emily go to a parent-teacher-conference and find out that Tomei is actually Robbie's teacher. Emily finds out that Cal has been seeing other women while they've been separated because she cheated on him and announced it to an entire restaurant ...but, you know, he's the villian for having sex with other women. Jessica has a thing for Cal and takes naked photos of her to send to him. Emily starts dating David because she's upset that Cal had sex with other women because they separated because she cheated on him with David. Cal is told by everyone that he should "win" back Emily ...after she's cheated on him with David. So, Cal decides to build her a minature golf course (WTF), because, you know, she doesn't have to do anything to win him back ...after cheating on him with David. At the big reveal of the golf course that Cal has made Emily (WTF), Jacob arrives as Hannah boyfriend ...see, Hannah is Cal and Emily's oldest child. Then David shows up. Bernie shows up, upon finding the naked photos of Jessica in her room. Jessica shows up to stop Bernie. Everyone gets angry Cal. So, Robbie graduates 8th grade and is making a speech about giving up on love. Cal interrupts and proclaims love to be great ...even though EMILY CHEATED ON HIM WITH DAVID AND EVERYONE TREATS CAL LIKE SHIT. People applaud this awkward and random act. Hannah and Jacob end up together. Jessica gives Robbie naked pics of herself (NEVER would happen in real life), and Cal and Emily are left laughing together. Awww... So, the moral of the story? If you are man who gets cheated on by your wife, its your fault and all this "game" stuff actually DOES work in picking up women but we're never supposed to admit it.

  • July 29, 2011, 11:07 p.m. CST

    I dont get it, how it's the man's fault...

    by Norman Colson

    that's that bullshit. If the wife wants to whore around finding herself while she lays on her back while her abandoned husband is left alone. Why get mad at him for sleeping around. for all intents and purposes, he's single. he can sleep with whoever he wants. Besides marisa tomei is stupid hot. i dont think if i was cal I turn her down if i was in the situation. That's a cool rebound. The wife is wrong. blame lies squarely on her sholders. and that's the bottom line... -ghosted

  • Aug. 7, 2011, 6:25 p.m. CST

    Yeah, who can laugh when there's starving kids in Africa

    by Drath

    That First World Problems line is particularly grating, dude. It's a romantic comedy, it's not about saving the world, even when it does make lofty claims about fighting for soul mates. Your life is in the wrong direction when you want a movie like this to give you important life lessons or be profound or even when you think it's a big deal that the movie might claim to offer such insight (a clue, it's entertainment, it'll NEVER be that deep). It ain't gonna happen. You didn't enjoy it, but as much as an opinion can be wrong, yours is here. I also didn't think Moore's character was made to pay for her "sins" much at all, I just think she appeared to GRASP that she'd made a mistake while I didn't think Carrell's Cal ever got that he was wrong to sleep around (though an argument can be made that he took out his guilt on Jacob when he had the chance).