Crazy Stupid Love is a funny and touching film with characters so likeable, it’s hard to judge them even when they do foolish things. The plot swings into action when happily married Cal (Steve Carell), discovers that his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) has cheated on him with a colleague, and wants a divorce. Moping about in a bar, he catches the attention of smooth player Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who takes him under his wing and gives him a cool makeover. The confident new Cal gets lucky with a nympho schoolteacher (Marisa Tomei), but his heart still yearns for his wife, who has started dating that co-worker she slept with (Kevin Bacon).
Jacob, meanwhile, who walks out of the bar with a different woman every night, finds himself seriously smitten by Hannah (Emma Stone), a lawyer-in-training and possibly the only girl who isn’t instantly floored by his charm. In other news, Cal and Emily’s young son has a crush on his teenage babysitter, who is herself crushing on a much older man.
Disguised as a breezy rom-com, Crazy Stupid Love is in fact a smart film that offers surprisingly perceptive insights into adult pain. At the same time it manages to remain consistently funny, thanks to sharp performances by its two male leads. Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling deliver big laughs as men who couldn’t be more different, and yet seem to have the same gooey interior. Emma Stone is a pleasant revelation, and her scenes with Gosling are some of the film’s cutest – including the one in which she demands R-rated sex from him.
The film’s criss-crossing subplots come together in a predictable fashion, and there are times the story feels too stretched for its own good. The tone shifts regularly between serious and funny, but the transitions aren’t always seamless. Yet, Crazy Stupid Love is a film that benefits enormously from its talented, delicious cast whose very presence makes it worth watching. In a relatively small role, Marisa Tomei is a joy to watch, and she steals every scene she’s in.
I’m going with three out of five for Crazy Stupid Love. Like the real thing itself, it mixes pain with pleasure. What’s not to like?