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Monday, 23 April 2012

Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (12A) ★★★
A middle-aged husband's life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a new-found friend Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars.

Steve Carell could have walked past you in the street, ten years ago, and you wouldn’t have looked twice. Hell, maybe you wouldn’t have even looked once.
He is the consummate everyman, bringing his nice-guy persona to previous outings: 40 Year Old Virgin and Dan in Real Life. It is this quality which he brings to the table once again for Crazy, Stupid, Love.

One emotion that Carell does really well is ‘awkward’, along with believable introversion and realistic sorrow. As a “happily” married man who is suddenly faced with the bombshell that his wife has cheated on him, and now wants a divorce, Carell is perfectly cast as the downtrodden, heartbroken and suddenly single, middle-aged Cal Weaver. As Weaver autopilots to the nearest bar to lick his wounds; his drunken, painful outbursts attract the attention of resident lothario, Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling).

As Weaver sits alone at the bar, slurring offensively at a waitress, Palmer extends a perfectly attired arm, offering to turn his life around, by mentoring Weaver to succeed in the dating game after a prolonged absence.

It is this main premise which provides both the film’s core plot and its main hurdle.

It could be argued that a man in Weaver’s shoes, a desperate man, would agree to any offer of help which comes along, especially from such a successful player as Palmer. It could also be argued that Weaver is a passive character and therefore more like to ‘go with the flow’ as Palmer takes him under his immaculately preened wing. Whatever your viewpoint, it is perhaps difficult to imagine a stranger taking a leap of faith as sizable as the leap of faith which the audience is asked to take, when Weaver signs up to be mentored by such an abrasive coach.

Irrespective, once this sticky cog has been set in motion and Weaver starts his journey towards the rediscover of his manhood and independence, the movie sprays out in all directions, opening up several sub-plots which coordinate as effectively as Weaver’s newly acquired outfits. As the film progresses, it provides moments of both laugh out loud humour and touching sensitivity, charting the mirrored evolution of Weaver and Palmer as they reach their respective goals.

The film is beautifully shot, capturing the opposing realms of sleepy suburbia and nocturnal nightlife like two sides of a slowly rotating coin. Indeed it is this coin spin which provides much of the films magnetism as Weaver struggles to choose between the two drastically different lives in which he has been caught.

The supporting cast in Crazy, Stupid, Love are sublime. Gosling achieves both arrogance and isolation whilst Moore projects a convincing performance as a frustrated, lonely housewife, yearning for excitement. However, it is the more junior members of the cast which shine brightest in support of Carell’s lead. Heartfelt and often amusing turns from both Analeigh Tipton and Jonah Bobo provide both an excellent sub-plot and a nailed on portrayal of teenage crush angst.

Although the film stalls momentarily around the hour mark, it rallies valiantly for a climax which is both unexpected and brilliantly conceived, largely due to the excellent direction and intelligent scriptwriting which saves a few curveballs until the final innings.

As romantic comedies go, this is a solid story of the crisis of both a family and a man, which would be more believable on your street, than that of the Rover’s Return.


Review Submitted and Rated by: Dave Gledhill


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