Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love

I crazy, stupid, liked CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. It was refreshing to see a romantic comedy where characters acted their age, the comedy was based on behavior and not violating a pie, and there were some genuinely big laughs. My biggest problem was that a better title for the movie might be CRAZY, STUPID, LONG.

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.

As for performances, Steve Carrell plays the same character every time out -- the lovable schmuck trying to maintain his dignity and cover for his social awkwardness. And as such he's fine.  If there's a laugh to be had he got it for you.  Tim Allen used to play that part. Now it’s Carrell. Soon it will be Ty Burrell.

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.

Also notable is Jonah Bobo, who plays Carrell’s 13 year-old son, and Analeigh Tipton, who is the 17 year-old babysitter. Analeigh was perfect casting. A pretty teenage girl who is gawky and believable as a real teen. I’m sure someone at the studio said, “I bet with the right wardrobe Kate Hudson could play it”. Kudos to the producers for going authentic.

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.


Michael McKinney said...

My thought exactly. I wanted more Emma Stone and less Carrell. Can't wait for her to get the right staring role and hit it out of the park. I liked the twist near the end of the movie and like you, thought the casting was wonderful.

Max Clarke said...

Good review. Sorry you didn't cover all those fart gags, though.

Julianne Moore is one of my favorites, whether doing Lebowski or Magnolia or I'm Not There. She's beautiful but willing do play plain if needed. Good sense of funny timing, and she can replace a line or a piece of dialogue with just a look. said... opposed to some contrived big hook like two idiots switch bodies after pissing in a fountain.

Thanks, Ken. (tears up screenplay)

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I've yet to see Crazy, Stupid, Love.

The Nancy Meyers comparison. It works for her more recent films, but I actually thought What Woman Want was quite nice and watchable. Great mix of Sinatra, Chicago and Mel Gibson.

Chris said...

Here's one for friday:

On Yes, Dear the first aired episode was written by Greg Garcia and Alan Kirschenbaum, the show's creators, so it seemed pretty obvious it was the pilot, but its production code was 109, the second episode had the 101 production code and it was written by two other writers.

How do production codes get assigned and how does that work?

Marty Fufkin said...

Your comment about the length reminded me of Funny People. There was a hilarious 90-minute movie in there, but instead I felt like I was watching the outtake reel most of the time, especially the last hour. Seems like there's a breed of filmmakers trying to be the new James L. Brooks (or in James L. Brooks' case lately, the old James L. Brooks) and coming up short.

jbryant said...

Mike: Emma Stone has already gotten the right starring role and hit it out of the park: EASY A. Not a perfect movie by any means, but a perfect showcase for her considerable gifts.

I'm pretty much in full agreement with Ken about CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.'s pluses and minuses. If only the entire movie was made with the same level of inspiration, humor and heart as the Gosling/Stone scenes (particularly their extended scene at his place).

Analeigh Tipton's achievement in this is especially notable when one considers she made her name by coming in third on America's Top Model in 2008.

The Wrestler said...

Sounds like it qualifies as a rental. Anything over 90 min. becomes a mini-series for my attention span. Marisa Tomei is always great, no matter what her role is. Just looking at her is worth the $ of the DVD rental.

Todd Ayres said...

I have to disagree. I think lingering a little helped it feel different. I felt the same way about Bridesmaids. It took the time to milk the scenes instead of setting up a joke and moving on to another episode of wacky hijinx. Crazy, Stupid, Love didn't feel long to me at all. And I LOVED Analeigh as the babysitter. She has something special. What's great is that - just like Emma Stone - you can't quite pinpoint what it is.

Wallis Lane said...

“I bet with the right wardrobe Kate Hudson could play it”. Kudos to the producers for going authentic."

Good decision. Kate Hudson's not even qualified to play the role of the daughter in "The Goldie Hawn Story."

Pete Grossman said...

Man, I'm a fan of Love Actually - and I often get slammed for it by other guys. I confess that I also like The Notebook - to me, a heartfelt, genuine story. Directed by tough guy Nick Cassavetes no less. Am I crazy? What's a guy to do?

Andrew said...

It's the rare film these days that isn't 15-20 minutes too long. Especially comedies.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Oh, I adore Love fact, I think that movie's too short! I hear the director say in the commentaries something like "Our first cut was three hours forty five minutes", and I'm thinking, "OMG, get that on a DVD now!"

Jim said...

You nearly got me there. Well you had me all the way right up to that last line.

Word Verification: Fulka. You going to Fircombe?

Unknown said...

That last sentence reminded me of "The English Patient".

I love that Emma Stone is loved so much. She really was great in "Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe". I mean "Easy A". I mean whatever :-)

Brian Doan said...

Hi Ken,
I know this is off-topic (sorry!), but I read this and immediately thought of you:

I've only heard Scully intermittently, but even I know of his talent, reputation and importance to the Dodgers organization. I can only imagine what someone like you, who did Dodgers broadcasts and has been a fan for so long, thinks of this odd idea.

pumpkinhead said...

I have nothing to contribute, really, but the word verification for this post is "blecula."

JR said...

Ken - just a baseball post I saw on another blog - amazing!

Anonymous said...

Like Todd, I enjoyed that the film had "breathing space" for lack of a better term. I also really liked the Carrell bits, I thought he and Julianne had a nice easy chemistry.

Wondering if you were shocked with the reveal at the end or if you had figured it out.

Roger Owen Green said...

I too agreed with Todd - I didn't find it too long, the jokes that were set up scenes ago paid off later, and as Carrie Rickey suggested, it had the feel of a Shakespearean farce.

KXB said...

Did you just equate Steve Carell with Tim Allen? What's next, equating Tina Fey with Chevy (arghhhhhhhhhh) Chase?

Anonymous said...

The only part of the movie that rang crazy. stupid. false. to me was the school speech business at the end. Shame, because I was fully engaged for the rest. Overall, an enjoyable movie, and happily devoid of the touch of smugness that (IMO) marred "Love, Actually."

Johnny Walker said...

Finally got to see this. My biggest issue was that Ryan Gosling was suddenly "tamed" by Emma Stone... I just didn't buy his transformation. (And how many girls/women get their heart broken in real life trying to do what Stone's character does.)

My second issue was the message, "If you're in love with someone, and they're not into you -- keep pursuing them. Never give in! (And don't let a restraining order slow you down.)".

Everything else you say is right, though. The script was nearly there, but wasn't as good as something like "The Kids Are Alright" or "Win Win" -- which aren't romantic comedies, per se, but which attempt a similar kind of feeling.