As a whole, Crazy, Stupid, Love. is far less than the sum of its parts, and yet it is also a likeable mess of a summer flick. Other M-words spring to the alliterater’s mind: It’s also a mesh, a mash-up, and a marketing mishap, in which the filmmakers falter badly by trying to give something to many different genres and potential audience shares. It has the warm, fuzzy rom-com element; the nasty, Judd Apatow-esque crass comedy card; and one or two structure-goosing plot twists too many, which tend to dislodge the film’s occasional (if half-baked) efforts at connecting with a semblance of emotional realism.
With such problems, why is this flick—about things going bump in many lives after a suburban divorce bombshell—so pumped up with ditzy, bubbly fun?
What makes Crazy, Stupid, Love. worth watching are all the surprising tasty tidbits encountered along the way, often involving startling wee bursts of good acting, dignifying a mostly lame cinematic host. Take, for instance, the scene deep within the film when young Hannah (Emma Stone) submits to the sleazy seduction tactics of our “player” figure (played with his usual flair by Ryan Gosling). Stone, a rising star who can really act, is remarkable in the scene, a pivotal turn in the plot that plays out as a seduction scene and a deconstructionist satire of said seduction process.
As the divorce-inducing midlife-muddle sufferer, Julianne Moore sneaks in some affecting acting warmth, as expected, and the always game and lovable Marisa Tomei has an outrageous turn as a horny teacher with bad hair and makeup. Steve Carell, meanwhile, is strangely wobbly in his twin role as a family-man dullard trying to morph into a lady’s man. Now that he’s quit his TV day job, Carell may have a challenge in finding his place in the comedy landscape, and his work in this film and last year’s god-awful Date Night aren’t boding well for his big-screen career.
Commas count for something in the silly title, a spin-off of the “wash, rinse, repeat” language loop that parses out like a series of adjectives/states of being, kind of like Eat Pray Love—but without the religion part. Come for the escapist twaddle. Stay for the accidental fine acting bits.