It’s rare, but every now and then a romantic comedy will come along that respects the audience. One that doesn’t rely on cheap gags and formulaic situations, but genuine characters reacting realistically to compelling situations. This is quite a trick to pull off, and and yet somehow, Dan Fogelman’s script for Crazy Stupid Love makes it seem effortless.
Steve Carell plays Cal Weaver, a content family man thrown a curveball when his wife Emily, played by Julianne Moore, announces over dinner that she wants a divorce. Not the standard setup for a typical “chick flick.” This announcement leads Cal to a bar where he meets Jacob, played by Ryan Reynolds, a womanizing player who decides to make Cal his project. Essentially, he wants Cal to experience what it is to be Jacob. This is the springboard upon which Fogelman sets this hilariously serious exploration of love and the fallout, both good and bad, that can result.
In the film, as in real life, this setup would have far-reaching consequences. That’s part of what makes this story so successful is that this isn’t just Cal and Jacob’s story, but rather, everyone who has some connection to their lives. Whether it’s family, friends, or even the babysitter, everybody is affected. In bringing this situation to life, the filmmakers have populated the film with a terrific ensemble, including Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon and Emma Stone. The material seems to have inspired the entire cast to bring their A-game, as their isn’t a weak performance to be found.
As a result, Crazy Stupid Love ends up both hilarious and moving, often within the same scene. Carell has a knack for playing these relatable every-man characters, but I was surprised at just how effective he was at portraying a smooth ladies man. Likewise, it seems obvious to cast Gosling as the lothario, but he brings a depth to the character that I wasn’t expecting. Playing the role with just a tad of self-loathing, he drastically elevates the character with his performance. He is also suprisingly funny, and has great chemistry with Carrell.
Now, the film does get a little cliche towards the end, featuring a middle-school graduation that doesn’t feel remotely realistic. However, it’s still a touching moment, and the film earns it. It’s such a strong script that any shortcomings are easily balanced out by how well everything else works. As for the Blu-Ray release, there aren’t a lot of bonus features. Just a short segment with Carell and Gosling discussing various aspects of the film and their characters, and a brief analysis of the characters of Jacob and Cal. The only other features are deleted scenes, running a little over 12 minutes.
Unlike most deleted scenes you usually see, most of these are well-written and compelling sequences in their own right. I assume they were cut mostly for pacing reasons, but there is some legitimately good material to be found in this segment. However, there are no features beyond these scenes and the segments mentioned above. It’s a shame, as it could have been really interesting to hear a commentary track from the writer, director, or any number of the fantastic cast.
Still, the film is strong enough, this would be worth adding to your collection even with no extras. The 2-Disc set comes with both the Blu-Ray and a DVD of the film. This is not only one of the best romantic comedies of the year, but could very well end up one of the best movies of the year. Highly recommended.