There is no shortage of romantic comedies, but Crazy, Stupid, Love is a complete home run. The film captures a neat balance of romantic and comedic elements, though what shines through are the quite hard-hitting and, for want of a better phrase, adult themes that make this a hugely relatable watch.
Rather than a standard teen romance, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a more mature translation of the trials of love, portraying both young people and adults as they explore the romantic landscape. This ensemble storyline feels really refreshing, reminiscent of the Shakespeare comedies As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the construction of the romance plot. The pursuit of unrequited love and the challenges between familiar lovers are common narratives. However, it comes as no surprise that the comedy is so strong, largely thanks to the involvement of Steve Carell, an actor renowned for his comic roles.
As well as being a producer on the film, Carell plays one of the principal characters, Cal, starring alongside Julianne Moore as his wife Emily. Together they create a realistic portrayal of a troubled relationship. Their chemistry as parents trying to figure out how to fix things is something many can connect to. The real heart of the film comes through in the relationship between Cal and Ryan Gosling’s character Jacob, who tries to lift Cal’s spirits and help him reinvent himself. They are an unlikely pairing, but Gosling fully embraces the role and transforms what could potentially be an unlikeable, sleazy character into one we love to watch. Cal and Jacob represent opposite ends of the masculine spectrum, at risk of being caricatures; as we see their relationship build and both characters grow, we recognise the depth and humanity that they share.
Crazy, Stupid, Love could have been very monotone film in that, were the comedy not to evolve throughout film, there would be little room for the characters to develop. It does the opposite of that. The tone shifts in each scene, with the characters given opportunity to navigate their own narrative. Possibly the best example of this is the pivotal scene where Cal attempts to recreate his first date with Emily and recapture the initial romance. The tone seemingly shifts with every line and movement, signalling the colliding of multiple personal narratives. There is a huge amount of humour in the scene, but this is undercut and bought back into the ‘real’ world with the tragedy of what feels like a permanent impasse in everyone’s relationships. The audience is hit hard, and for a time this becomes a quite sad experience, but the ending more makes up for this – with credit in part to Jonah Bobo’s performance as Cal and Emily’s son Robbie – marking many characters’ respective redemptions.
What comes through most for me is the feel-good aspect of the film. There is something for everyone in the story, whether you are an older parent or a young teen going through puberty. It feels like a dialled-up version of real life. Crazy, Stupid, Love provides the perfect escape to a cinematic world, something that I would be happy to see more people appreciate.
Watch the trailer below: