Movie Review - Crazy, Stupid, Love

The problem is from the moment he first appears to his very last shot I didn't like Ryan Gosling's character of Jacob, and I don't see how anyone could. Steve Carrell (The Office) plays Cal Weaver, a married man recently separated from his wife who finds himself trolling a very trendy, Los Angeles bar, but yet Cal is the one calling Jacob creepy because that's exactly what he is.

Jacob looks like he's a GQ model. He's hip. He's smooth. He's sexy. More importantly, he knows he's sexy. He's uber-confident or else uber-arrogant, and he's an uber-womanizer. When it comes to picking up women at the bar, he is the ultimate player. He has a game plan, which always results in him getting a woman to come home and have sex with him, and it's always a different woman every night or every weekend or whenever.

For no explicable reason than perhaps to shut him up, Jacob decides to take Cal under his wing and turn this 40-something man into a womanizer too. Considering Cal married his high school sweetheart and never had sex with any other girl, this proves to be a challenge. Therefore, Jacob slaps Cal around, insults him and is generally tough on him, but, it's all "Extreme Makeover: Alpha Male Edition."

We've seen this kind of dynamic before between two people. It's Don Juan meets Pygmalion in a modern variation, a more comedic one. Except, Gosling is full on with almost no redeeming values. Yes, he's physically attractive, but why all the women who go home with him do so is just ridiculous and why Cal goes along with him and wants to pattern himself after Jacob is just ridiculous too. Cal is the complete opposite to this guy and there is no real link between them. Besides the fact they're both men and both are in the same bar, there's nothing between them but the thinnest of threads.

Jacob meets Hannah, played by Emma Stone. Hannah initially rebuffs Jacob's advances, but it's obvious that she won't resist him forever. Supposedly, Hannah is the girl who ends Jacob's Don Juan ways. Unfortunately, I didn't buy that turn. Yes, he says he's changed, and yes, Gosling is very convincing but it wasn't enough. We're not given enough of Jacob and Hannah's relationship to accept that arc.

Jacob and Hannah could have been taken completely out of this movie and I doubt the film would have suffered. Their relationship makes for a great gag at the end, but it's similar to another gag that happens in the middle of the film. The relationship becomes an unwelcome surprise. Yes, it's a surprise, but it's not as funny the second-time around. Yet, they're the two only, really funny gags in the movie.

Directors Glen Ficarra and John Requa's previous film I Love You Phillip Morris had me laughing more. This film has ridiculousness and subtle silliness to keep a smile on your face, but that's it. Carrell brings his brand of humor, which maintained my interest. The sweetness of Julianne Moore who plays Cal's wife, Emily, and the insanity of Marisa Tomei who plays Cal's mistress are two bright performances that hold this movie up as well. It's less of a laugh-out-loud comedy than it is a sweet drama.

The true center of this film though is Robbie, Cal's 13-year-old son, played by Jonah Bobo. He's the champion of true love and the idea of soulmates. He's like a puppy dog in the way he relentlessly chases his object of affection, and that's really the theme of the movie. A person must chase his true love or his soulmate. Robbie perfectly punctuates this notion.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 58 mins.


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