Wednesday, August 24, 2011
They could have easily taken twenty minutes out of that movie and (a) you wouldn’t miss a thing, and (b) it would be a much tighter funnier and emotional film.
Not being a high concept romcom has it’s plusses and minuses. Again, I enjoyed watching people work through romantic entanglements as opposed to some contrived big hook like two idiots switch bodies after pissing in a fountain. Instead, we are treated to a series of subplots. And the problem there is that you have a lot of loose ends to tie up, and that takes time and additional scenes. The movie has a great beginning and nine so-so endings.
Of greater concern is that of all the plots, the main one with Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore was by far the least interesting. After many years she wants a divorce and he is cast out on his own. You’re supposed to hope that they get back together again I suppose but you really don’t. If there was some spark between them, some chemistry, some magic – I sure as hell missed it. They were just two dull people and there was nothing to suggest that if they got back together again anything would be any different. At one point, after some tutoring by Ryan Gosling, Carrell starts sleeping with a bunch of women, and I’m thinking – Great, I’m satisfied. Let’s eat. But no, that’s not the end. That’s just the start of Act II.
Julianne Moore has a tough assignment. How do you dump your puppy dog husband without having the audience absolutely hate you? With a mixture of skill and charm she somehow pulls it off. No easy task. It’s a tribute to her talent and likeability. But she’s not funny. And this becomes even more noticeable because everyone else in the film is.
Ryan Gosling really shines as the modern day Fonzie. He’s the real-life version of Barney on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. Gosling has the swagger, Gosling has the talk – his days of dating inflatable girls are over.
But stealing the show is Emma Stone. And she’s not in it that much. But every moment she’s on the screen your interest level goes through the roof. Her sequences with Gosling are the best scenes in the film.
Kevin Bacon makes the most of a too-small role and the best thing is, since this is a big ensemble piece, I think you can now change the game to “Five Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. Meanwhile, Marisa Tomei is funny and never ages. I don't know how she does that. She must have a portrait in her attic that now looks like Nancy Pelosi.
Smart script by Dan Fogelman and the directing team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa get the laughs but never at the expense of the emotion. And if you think that’s easy, see any Nancy Meyer movie (at your own risk). This is what all of her films aspire to be and fall short by 2,000 miles.
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE is worth seeing, especially if you liked… say, LOVE ACTUALLY and the length of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.
By Ken Levine at 5:55 AM