Saturday, August 27, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

Crazy, Stupid, Love

"Crazy, Stupid, Love" has an all star cast that does their very best. The film is a two- tone comedy drama that stars our new master of comedy Steve Carell, as Cal, another well meaning Averageman in New Balance sneakers. Even though this is no stretch for Carell, ("Dan in Real Life" and the oddly engaging madcap "Dinner for Schmucks") it is what we have come to expect from Carell. He does it so well that it is his living legacy by now.

Cal is a person of routine: well meaning, somewhat passive and tepidly content. But just when we think things are status quo, Cal's wife Emily, (portrayed with  indie-caliber intent by Julianne Moore) declares divorce. As if we couldn't see it coming.

Cal withdraws to the barstool and becomes a wallflower. Hold on!  In the nick of time before things get totally morose, in comes the hip Jacob (Ryan Gosling). Jacob is a skirt chaser with an infinite number of pick up scenarios. He is clean shaven and cool yet he seems to be hiding something. Gosling plays well here and he is a treat to watch, plotwise however, his character doesn't seem to go that far. But that's not Gosling's fault.

Jacob takes Cal under his wing and gives him a makeover. Cal gains confidence and is able to pick up women. In how many films has this  occurred? 

Cal manages a date with Kate (Marisa Tomei). Cal at last has a wild time and it is one of the most intriguing segments in the film. Cal disarms Kate not by acting the Casanova but simply by stuttering and by being himself. The lusty charges given off by Cal after a sensual drought are visceral and authentic. There is an echo of "The Graduate" here and the spontaneity is refreshing.

But then the story loses its magnetism. Kate becomes too comical and ridiculously manic during a teacher conference, scribbling wildly and screaming. Kate just wouldn't act like that. And Cal goes back to his snail-like position. 
The film veers into  madcap farce too quickly ala "Funny People" (2009) and looses an edge.  Why does it have to be so predictable and over the top with flying fists, not to mention broken windmills? And yikes! Yet another smarmy role by Kevin Bacon? 

"Crazy Stupid Love" is not a bad film just a schizoid one. It doesn't seem to know what it wants. Is it an indie film or a zany comedy? The mixture in tone is confusing and the rapid farce has been so often seen before that it becomes boring at times. 

That is not to say that Carell and Gosling are not worth watching, they are. But after a while the farce and "the message" both become so self- evident, loud and imposing that it spoils any new discovery.

The first half of the movie had me piqued by the contrast of Gosling and Carell with the promise of a good solid character study, but by the second half I felt myself retreat into my seat turning into a wallflower of chrome.

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