This Is Love

Glenn Ficarra
John Requa

Steve Carell
Ryan Gosling
Julianne Moore
Emma Stone

Crazy, Stupid, Love is brought to us by two writers – one of which directed the wholly average I Love You, Phillip Morris. This movie isn’t greatly different but in trying to pull itself up out of a wealth of mediocre rom-coms, Crazy, Stupid, Love makes a valiant attempt at creating something fresh. Naturally, it’s not a complete success but at least there’s something about it that feels new, despite clinging to an extremely familiar structure.

During what appears to be a standard night out, Emily Weaver [Moore] abruptly blurts out that she has slept with another man and wants a divorce. This utterly shocks her husband, Cal [Carell], but rather than becoming overly emotional, he bitterly shuffles aside. In an attempt to move on, Cal frequents a bar littered with young singles, one of whom, Jacob [Gosling] appears every single night, always going home with a different woman. Taking pity on Cal, Jacob calls him over and insists he will help him change his image, outlook on life and sexual prospects. Feeling he has little to lose, Cal agrees to the make-over and begins to learn the ways of Jacob Palmer – which largely consists of wads of cash, overbearing confidence and terrible one-liners; all of which seems to work. After a few one night stands, Cal sorely misses his wife and family, at the same time, Jacob starts to fall for the one girl who has shown a resilience to his ‘charms’ and the only girl he can seemingly talk about himself with. At the same time, we follow a support thread depicting the growing crush Cal’s son feels for his babysitter, and her feelings for Cal.

The main structural problem stems from the complete dismissal of certain characters at times. So rather than following everyone, we focus on one individual for half an hour, then suddenly leap to a completely different development and you can’t help but feel rather disorientated. Add to that incredibly disjointed pacing, gimmicky support characters and half-arsed editing and you’re pretty much lost. On top of that, there’s the contradictory element to the story. I’m sure the initial message was an upbeat one that illustrates no matter how hard life can hit you, things generally pan out.. providing you stay true to yourself. But that gets lost under layers of back-and-forthing and confusion before the lead characters simply turn to the camera and shrug, whilst laughing hysterically; as if to say, ‘What are you gonna do?’ obnoxiously. This probably comes from the fact that the script’s central relationship is that of a pair of divorced forty year olds, with a twenty-something relationship thrown in for younger audiences and a kid crush for the cutesy factor. In other words, it feels like the script was written as a divorce rom-com but needed various elements to spice it up and appeal to a wider demographic; which is unfortunate because the chemistry and frustration between Carell and Moore is certainly present and one of the film’s more interesting suits.

I had just started writing about the completely dismissible score but as it was so forgettable, I’ll just press on.

I think it’s fair to say everyone would agree the film is worth seeing solely for the amusing development in the third act, the one event that combines perfect timing with hilarious reactionary performances. But outside of that, the humour is largely flat and more often than not misfires completely. In a surprisingly commendable move, the screenplay tends to avoid the easy setup of simply making Cal the butt of every joke, instead Carell plays the entire thing as a straight-comedy/drama and subsequently adds a sense of realism to the story. In the same way, Moore could have been pitched as either a desperately jealous, resentful woman or a cold, manipulative schemer but she too portrays her character realistically, projecting an almost forlorn regret throughout. Other than that, the supports just feel like something to cut away to. Both Gosling and Emma Stone have amusing elements to their characters and although I’ve highlighted Gosling’s character below, neither actor really gets the chance to shine or convey anything other than a two dimensional, semi-predictable caricature. On the upside, the film ended rather well, with a pleasant (albeit confused) message and reasonable tone.

Release Date:
23rd September 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
Desperate to get back to his old life, Cal begins breaking into his old shed and tending the garden during the night. I’m not entirely sure why I enjoyed these scenes so much, possibly for the fact that it wasn’t overly milked, but they were a surprisingly tender break which afforded a few decent moments.

Notable Characters:
Gosling’s character is a bit of a dick. As the film opens, you can’t help but hate the confident prick. But as the story progresses, you find yourself amused by the prick. I wouldn’t say we get to the stage where we root for him or in any way like his character but to portray an arsehole and find something affable about that is certainly a sign of good writing.

Highlighted Quote:
“The war between the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise”

In A Few Words:
“Not nearly as bad as I had initially predicted yet despite avoiding the same old recycled developments, it still manages to fall short of anything greatly substantial”

Total Score: