Spoiler alerts below!
I’ll be honest with you: I’ve been dying to see Crazy, Stupid, Love ever since my first glimpse of Ryan Gosling‘s rock solid abs in the film’s trailer. Before you go thinking I’m as shallow as that statement would bely, let me add that when Entertainment Weekly touts a movie as the best romantic comedy in years, I almost peed myself with excitement. I mean, you’re talking to the girl who saw the utterly craptastic Something Borrowed THREE times. ‘Nuff said. Their assessment didn’t disappoint — this film is provocative, realistic and refuses to back down from the premise that love doesn’t have to make sense.
The movie begins with schlubby Cal Weaver (Steve Carrell) dining in a fancy restaurant with his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore). The camera pans to his tweed jacket, his “Super Cuts” haircut and his white New Balances; Cal is the fashion world’s version of an ugly duckling in a sea full of swans. When he asks Emily what she wants for dessert, she pauses before blurting out, “I want a divorce.”
And they’re off! While Cal deals with losing his high school sweetheart — after 25 years of marriage and three kids, no less — and the fact that the love of his life had cheated on him with a fellow accountant (Kevin Bacon), the bitter protagonist wallows in self-pity at a local trendy lounge.
Cue Gosling’s Henry Higgins-esque character, Jacob Palmer, the bar’s resident player. He’s a honeytrap for women, sleeping with and discarding a new one each night (and if you don’t believe this happens, it does – I’ve seen many a guy friend in action). Without a clear motivation other than Cal “reminds him of someone”, Jacob takes the love loser under his wing, changes his look and teaches him how to become a womanizer.
But while the perpetual ladies man is teaching Cal to become his protege, the master himself falls in love with smart and sassy lawyer Hannah (Emma Stone). Just as Cal has to be taught how to get his groove back, Jacob has to to open himself up to the terrifying realization that he’s tumbling head over heels.
Why did I love this movie about love? It’s just so goddamn real. After a brazen attempt to go against her nature and seduce Jacob, Hannah and he end up in bed…talking. They have one of those magical conversations that you so rarely have, when you literally stay up all night finding out everything you possibly can about the other until you’re too exhausted to speak anymore.
I like that the ending is ambiguous, that we don’t know how Cal’s love story is going to end. He makes an impassioned speech at his son Robbie’s (Jonah Bobo) middle school graduation about finding his soulmate and, despite not knowing whether or not he’s lost her forever, how he’ll always love her.
I love the movie’s hope that people will change, that finding the right person can make anyone commit. There was no fairytale ending here, as is typical of most Hollywood manufactured films, but that I was rooting for one anyway even as the credits rolled. This film — and the characters in it — are real and very flawed. You cannot hate any of them; they are human.
Relationships aren’t always easy, people aren’t perfect. The road you’ll take will most likely be riddled with bumps, potholes and stop signs. Love is crazy and stupid — but I wouldn’t wish anyone a life without it.