GMA News Online
Lifestyle
»
Art and Culture

Romantic quandaries in 'Crazy, Stupid, Love'

August 15, 2011 1:32pm
This is a movie that does just fine in the dramatic comedy game if you come into it with cold expectations. If you’re like me though, and you saw the stellar cast list and eagerly anticipated some new insights into 21st century romance, its issues and dilemmas, then you’re bound to leave unsatisfied.

There’s really only so much A-list actors -- some with Academy Award nods and one, Marisa Tomei, with a win -- can do with a fair to middling storyline that often reduced its characters to caricatures.

The premise starts out strong enough. We are dropped in medias res as, at a posh restaurant where fortysomething, straight-laced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell, also one of the producers) and his wife since high school Emily (Julianne Moore) are about to have dinner, Emily suddenly announces her desire for a divorce. Also, that she’s cheating on him with a co-worker. Boom.



Cal used to be living the dream -- a good job, nice house, great kids, and a steady, loving marriage, albeit one that had reached a plateau. With divorce on the table, Cal’s “perfect" life is very quickly in tatters.

“I watched the new Twilight film by myself the other day," cries a distressed Emily who claims it’s all a midlife crisis. “I don’t know why I did that. It was so bad!" Fortunately, Crazy, Stupid, Love is not on the same level as today’s vampire high-school pap.

There are some genuinely funny moments here, borne through the ballast of tragedy. For one thing, Cal hasn’t dated in decades and he finds himself spending his evenings sulking at a local bar, dejected and telling anyone within earshot about his woes. The name David Lindhagen (the co-worker Emily slept with, played by Kevin Bacon) is a mantra on his lips, and the ensuing mess is fun to watch.



What tries but fails to catch as an ensemble story spirals out without its own steam. Before we can even get warm with Cal and Emily’s situational catastrophe, in a blink we are introduced to Jacob Palmer, a ripped and handsome pick-up artist played by Ryan Gosling.

Jacob regularly cruises the bar where Cal goes to drink. He takes pity on the hapless Cal and trains him as his protégé. Pretty soon the game-smooth, newly polished Cal finds that flirty women, manly drinks, casual sex, and a real sense of style are great distractions from his domestic troubles.

Credit goes to Ryan Gosling and Emily Stone (who plays girl next door type Hannah) for the most candid and original scene in the movie, where the consummate player meets the perfect foil. For one night, with the help of much athleticism and the finale of Dirty Dancing, all rituals of the pick-up game are suspended. Plausibly enough, out of it rises platonic alchemy, which in turn gives birth to a genuine relationship.



The other side stories are interesting as well: Cal’s 13-year-old son Robbie is in love with his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica -- played by young model Analeigh Tipton, recently in The Green Hornet and certainly a talent to watch -- while Jessica in turn harbors a major crush on Cal. Hannah also has her own screen time featuring the drudgery of a boring, corporate life.

The problem with Crazy, Stupid, Love is that the plot is weighed down by too many story threads. Because it’s so crowded, they inevitably fail to be explored and simply fray into a rambling exposition on marriage and divorce, parenting, first love, cheating, midlife lust, as well as some insider scoop on pick-up culture.

After all that, it’s still a movie to make you feel all warm and googly inside. Grab your popcorn, enjoy the laughs, and delight in what crazy you can get from the drama of it. - YA, GMA News

Crazy, stupid, love opens Aug 17 in Metro Manila theaters.

All photos courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures Phils.