Crazy, Stupid, Love. - DVD Review

'the film's middle third plays out like a fratboy sex comedy and, surprise, surprise, doesn't fit in with what the rest of the film seems to have to say on love'

The award for this week's creatively punctuated film title goes to the two-commas-and-a-full-stop sporting Crazy, Stupid, Love., a title which Word will immediately hate should you wish to follow it with further text of any sort.

Beyond contributing to crimes against Word's perception of grammar, CSL is yet another one of those films that doesn't entirely know what it wants to be and therefore opts for the 'multiple stories on multiple different levels' approach, which, as Hereafter and The Beaver, amongst others, have demonstrated recently, typically doesn't work.

So, here, we have Steve Carell and Julianne Moore who are engaged in a long-term relationship break-up, a serious drama made comedic only really because it involves Steve Carell and therefore has to be funny. More overtly comedic is the result of this break-up; Carell's relationship with debonair womaniser Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who tries to show him how to 'reclaim his manhood'. Elsewhere, Emma Stone wonders whether she's with the right man and seventeen year-old Jess (Analeigh Tipton) catches thirteen year-old Robbie (Jonah Bobo) masturbating. More on that later.

The sub-plots and relationships work well on a variety of levels. Carell and Gosling indulge in various bouts of fun and Carell and Moore give off a good impression of having once been madly in love, now chasing the embers of their relationship down to ash.

For every success though there's something that doesn't fit. David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) isn't slimy enough to be the relationship-breaker-upper of this piece and you never really hate him, or Carell's character, enough to sympathise with either of them for the other's failings. Scriptwriter Dan Fogelman clearly picked the character's name to try and engage in some miss-pronunciation hi-jinx but if you're going to do that you really need to take a page out of The Cohen's book and dream up a Rex Rexroth. Lindhagen just isn't funny and it typifies some of the film's flawed attempts at humour, which end up as scene after scene of Gervais-esque awkward moments and conversations.

Jacob works well as a womaniser but his inevitable re-evaluation doesn't have any explanation; he just disappears off screen for about a month's worth of film time and re-emerges a changed man. Neither he, nor Cal (Carell) ever really atone for the shallow womanising they take part in in the film's middle third, which plays out like a fratboy sex comedy and, surprise, surprise, doesn't fit in with what the rest of the film seems to have to say on the beauty of love. Anyone who recognises that this doesn't work (Marisa Tomei's Kate, for example) is simply written out of the plot, their objection duly noted and ignored.

Circling round all this and hogging much more of the focus that the marketing wants you to believe is the Jess/Robbie relationship, which ends on a deeply troubling note. Recently a listener to Radio 5's Kermode and Mayo program suggested that the test for sexism was to swap the genders of the two people involved in the on-screen relationship around. The relationship might not be sexist but do that with Jess and Robbie and you should get a view of just how muddled its entire inception is.

Ultimately, although it may look fairly affable, Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a decent character (Jacob) or a good relationship (Carell/Moore) away from being a Katherine Heigl/Gerard Butler mess of the highest order and at no point does anyone seem to have recognised that the Jess/Robbie relationship just doesn't work on any level. Passably funny but deeply flawed.

Look further...

'a sincere, heartwarming and funny look at modern relationships, the ideology of ‘soul mates’, the elusiveness of true love and the beauty of finally finding it' - Andy Buckle's Film Emporium, 4/5


  1. Was writing a review for this to go up on my blog next week and agree with a few points (might have to change the review now!). I enjoyed it but my main problem is there are too many storylines to conclude satisfactorily, however well tied in they may be to the film's theme of love.

    I also don't like speeches like the one at the end that spell out the film's message. Enjoyable but feels like a weaker imitation/version of better 90s rom-coms.

    1. I think the problem with the storylines might be that it never chooses which one the main one is. Robbie/Jess should be a sub-plot (well... it shouldn't be in there at all but taking it as a given that it is...) but instead it becomes a focus.

      I think you're right on the speeches and I think it's a failing of the film that it needs to explain that its message about love is that: 'it's out there, go find your soulmate!'. Without the speeches its not so obvious that's what the film is saying, pointing to a really big problem at the heart of the script.

  2. Yeah, this movie didn't look to good to me. Glad I didn't see it. Good stuff on this site.

    1. Cheers dude, yeah my recommendation is give it a miss.