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With: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, Joey King, Marisa Tomei, Beth Littleford, John Carroll Lynch, Kevin Bacon, Liza Lapira, Josh Groban, Mekia Cox, Julianna Guill
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language
Running Time: 118
Date: 28/07/2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Guy Power

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Imagine if Hall Pass had some balls. You might get something like Crazy, Stupid, Love. In Hall Pass, a married man has a chance to have sex with a blonde goddess and passes. In Crazy, Stupid, Love., the newly divorced hero is still in love with his ex-wife, but that doesn't stop him from having sex with nine other women. It's through that meaningless sex that he rediscovers his manhood and learns how to fight for what he wants. That's not anything like the usual, chaste message that Hollywood peddles. This is something different.

Even in the similar Hitch (2005), where a guy with insight into women passed out advice to the hopelessly lost, Hitch (Will Smith) refused to help a guy who just wanted to have sex. His services were only provided for guys who wanted relationships. In Crazy, Stupid, Love., the similarly insightful Jacob (Ryan Gosling) just wants to help a guy get laid. He explains that the war between the sexes is over (it ended the moment women started pole dancing for exercise). A guy that has lost his sense of manhood simply needs to get it back. From there, it's a matter of flattering the girl, dominating her, and showing confidence. It's a short trip to the bedroom after that.

Of course, in Hollywood movies, the Jacob character always has to learn his lesson and fall in love for real, and that certainly happens here. Likewise, our local sad-sack Cal (Steve Carell) must learn how to get his wife back. But screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Cars, Bolt, Fred Claus) and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris) have quite a few surprises in store for us.

So as not to say too much, I'll just introduce the characters and stop there. Julianne Moore plays Cal's wife, who has slept with another man (Kevin Bacon). Emma Stone plays Hannah, the decent girl who wins Jacob's heart. Young Analeigh Tipton plays a cute babysitter who has a crush on Cal, but Cal's 13 year-old son (Jonah Bobo) is in love with her. Best of all, Marisa Tomei plays one of Cal's conquests; can I just get a shout-out for Marisa, who has been one of America's most reliable actresses for a couple of decades now? There should be another Oscar nomination for her, just for the way she writes the word "asshole" on a blackboard.

If Crazy, Stupid, Love. is extra brave in the way it handles sex, it's also extra brave in the way it handles love. The montage sequence in which Hannah and Jacob slowly fall for each other is one of the best such sequences I've seen in an American movie. It's silly and comfortable, rather than the usual breathless and starstruck stuff. Indeed, the filmmakers seem to be balancing an awful lot here, and gambling on many new ideas, and pulling it off most of the way. The film is arguably too long, and the filmmakers tend to collapse into a fairly routine climactic scene (with a speech, no less), but a smart epilogue helps save the day.

I wish I could say more. I know it sounds odd for me to guard the secrets of a romantic comedy as if it were a mystery thriller, but trust me: you just have to see this for yourself. To put it simply: this is a romantic comedy with balls.

Warner Home Video has released a two disc Blu-Ray and DVD combo, which also includes an optional digital copy. Extras include little interview featurettes and some deleted scenes (from a film that's already a bit too long). It's definitely worth seeing this again.

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