December seems to bring a mix of holiday favorites and new attempted twists on those favorites. For whatever reason, the early holiday season makes me think of romantic comedies (many of which are set at Christmas but that feels weak even to my long stated ability to make incredibly loose transitions). I was reminded of one of my favorite re-watches in that genre just last night and decided to dedicate December to Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011, dir. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa).
Crazy, Stupid, Love is the story of Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) and his wife Emily (Julianne Moore), who asks for a divorce after having an affair with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). This sends Cal on a bit of a spiral that leads him to Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), who is a notorious and successful ladies’ man and takes Cal under his wing to help him through this process. To go into too much more detail could ruin some of the more pleasant surprises the film has to offer, but the crux of the film revolves around Jacob trying to make Cal more like him while Jacob slowly becomes more like Cal.
While taking some of the formulaic elements of a rom-com and openly flaunting some of the others, this film sort of flies neatly between romance and comedy. It is at its best whenever it is playing on our expectations and then throwing them for a loop. Many of these come at the expense of Cal – where Carell absolutely shines in what has become his trademark level of the seemingly impossible state of over-the-top understatedness. However, this film would not be what it is without the supporting performances of Emma Stone, a HILARIOUS Marisa Tomei, Jonah Bobo, Lio Tipton, and a delightfully self-absorbed Josh Groban. The strength of this film lies in the sum of its parts.
Let me further state that there is nothing earth shattering about this film. It is a fun and interesting romantic comedy with good bits of both romance and comedy, several surprising fun twists, and a mostly solid ensemble. The beauty of it is that it is not trying to be anything more than that. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoy it and still watch it whenever it comes on – at least until the Dirty Dancing moment, which is one of my favorite film scenes of all time. Just don’t ask me to explain the punctuation in the title. It makes no sense and infuriates me every time I have to see it or write it that way.
FUN FACT – The aforementioned Dirty Dancing scene involves Ryan Gosling lifting up Emma Stone as was made famous by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. However, when attempting to film this the first time, Emma Stone freaked out – in that moment realizing she had a fear of falling from that height following a gymnastics accident when she was seven that left her with two broken arms. After this revelation, a body double was used, though Stone’s actual screams were later dubbed in.
Just Watch says that Crazy, Stupid, Love is streaming on Netflix and HBO Max. It is also available to rent or buy on most platforms, including AppleTV, Redbox, and Amazon Prime.