This severely overrated romantic comedy drama is a rather boring rehash of Valentine’s Day, The Kids Are All Right and It’s Complicated, with none of the latter two’s charm or wit. It isn’t as horrendous as Valentine’s Day (not many things are), but it does have one of those all-these-different-people-connected-by-love-or-the-hunt-for-love-and-maybe-they-are-closer-connected-than-you-think type of narratives.
Steve Carell is told by his wife of 25 years, Julianne Moore, that she wants a divorce. She has slept with one of her colleagues, Kevin Bacon, and doesn’t want to be married to boring old Steve anymore. So Steve needs help. He finds it in the form of Ryan Gosling, a gorgeous sex God with a flawless method of picking up women. He helps Steve reinvigorate his image and bed some ladies. Meanwhile, Emma Stone, looking as unconventionally gorgeous as ever, rejects the offer of sleeping with Gosling when he hits on her in a bar. She is hoping her odd-looking lawyer boyfriend will propose to her soon. She is hoping in vein. Also, in this crazy world of interconnected love stories, a young teenage babysitter has an even younger admirer. Embarrassing issues ensue.
The film doesn’t know if it wants to be an edgy dramedy (what a horrible word), a schmaltzy love fest, a sentimental moral story, or a raunchy sex comedy. So it has a haphazard go at all four, and the results are patchy, tedious and unconvincing. I could watch Julianne Moore do anything. If a film was released of her just shopping in Asda and tidying a house, I would still be transfixed. She is amazing, so I was of course never bored when she was on-screen. It’s just a shame she had such a below-par script to work with.
Steve Carell, whom I’ve never really liked, plays a pathetic, boring loser rather well, but we’ve seen him do this role before. Ryan Gosling, one of Hollywood’s fastest and most beguiling rising talents, is the real star of the show. His chemistry with Emma Stone is well acted and touchingly portrayed, although Stone’s comedy talents are criminally wasted. There’s also an embarrassing cameo from Marisa Tomei as an alcoholic teacher, but the less said about this the better.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. isn’t the worst of its genre. It’s just not of the quality one would expect from Moore, Gosling and Stone, although it is generally in line with most of Carell’s output. With their previous feature I Love You Phillip Morris, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa demonstrated how drama, sentiment, romance and comedy can be the ingredients for a wonderfully funny and heartwarming film; here they show us how they can also lead to a dull, tiresome, undisciplined mess.
Crazy Stupid Love (2011), directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros. Pictures, certificate 12A.