Movie Review: Crazy, Stupid Love
Awkward, Stupid Movie
Awkward is the best word to describe pretty much every scene in this film. I’m not talking about the awkwardness that makes a situation really funny, because in spite of having Steve Carrell, one of the comedy greats of our time (if you don’t believe me watch any episode of the Office season 1-7. Dunder Mifflin image courtesy of the TV show t shirts category) in the film somehow there is nothing funny about it. This is the kind of awkwardness that makes you squirm in your seat, sphincter clenched, wishing you were getting a root canal, bikini wax, or anything at all rather than be present in the room watching this happen. You know, the dinner party where one of your two friends accuses the other of cheating, or high school where you are experiencing teenage boy issues when the teacher asks you to step up to the chalkboard. This is awkward like finding out halfway through a major presentation that you have had a paper toilet seat cover hanging out of the back of your pants. Awkward on the level of if it were happening to you you would be praying for a meteor strike or bomb to go off just to distract everyone from what was happening.
I can’t stress this point enough, by the way. The awkwardness oozes out of every orifice and pore on the body of this film, leaving a awkward slime trail across every eyeball and permeating the atmosphere like a massive blast of flatulence inside a steam sauna. I can’t say this movie was truly bad, as the acting was actually pretty good and I liked most of the cast. I just ended up every five minutes or so wishing that the Smurfs hadn’t been sold out and I were in that theater praying for a painless death (Smurfs review on Weds).
The other general thing I am going to say about this film is if you are going to watch it, wear eye protection as there are a huge number of loose ends flying together and then exploding apart all over the place and you could end up with a plot point embedded in your eyeball. The staggering number of coincidences reached the point of stupidity about halfway through the film and keeps on digging, possibly in hopes of finding coincidence nirvana. It actually reaches the point where the coincidences cease to be surprising or even interesting and just get annoying. There is one, huge surprise that is supposed to be the big shocker but by the time you get there you have built up so much scar tissue on your psyche that it barely registers. It’s like how a good horror film knows to build suspense so that when you first catch a glimpse of the monster you are shocked out of your seat and a bad horror movie has a monster pop out of every trash can and rose bush, more or less inoculating you to the horror.
Anyway, the movie. Steve Carrol plays Cal, apparently candidate for dad of the decade but failing as husband. His wife of 25 years (Julianne Moore) wants a divorce, prompting the only funny part of the entire film when Cal jumps out of a moving car. They get home to their kids, a 13 year old boy and a little girl. The boy has a crush on the baby sitter, played by by the new love of my life, Analeigh Tipton, who happens to have a crush on Cal. Cal moves out and starts hanging out at the most amazing bar on the planet where super, duper, ultra hot sophisticated women apparently hang out waiting to get picked up and taken home for sex by men. If such a place actually exists please let me know where and I will be forever your friend. Anyway, he is such a putz that he can’t get anywhere and gets befriended by Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who is the local tomcat and apparently makes his living by picking up bimbos. Jacob decides to help Cal for no apparent reason and teaches him how to dress, act, and talk all in the noble pursuit of casual sex and objectifying women. At some point super hot Emma Stone shows up as Jacobs real love interest, but that is so freakishly complicated I don’t even want to get into it. In fact, the entire story and many, many subplots are twisted like 18 strings of Christmas tree lights bundled up together and I don’t even want to strain my brain further by exploring it, except to say that non-funny romance hijinks ensue, awkward scenes are fired at the audience like bullets from a machine gun, and just when you think the scenes couldn’t get any more awkward or creepier, they do.
The stars. Overall I thought every actor did an admirable job with the material given to them. Everyone delivered a very good performance, even the 13 year old kid. One star. Steve Carell. One star. Analeigh Tipton looking so much like I want my future wife to look it physically hurt me. One star. Emma Stone was pretty hot too. One star. Kevin Bacon. One star. I can honestly say that, with a few exceptions, it was not at all predictable. One star. There was a serious attempt to add complexity to the story and make us think, so I will give them credit even if the attempt led to a horrible convoluted mess. One star. Total: seven stars.
Now the black holes. I could give about 100 for each time I tried to find the ejector seat in order to not sit through another awkward moment, but will keep myself down to five. I will say that the awkwardness included but was not limited to: the hot baby sitter walking in on the 13 year old masturbating; him telling her he thinks about her while doing it; implied underage pornography; Cal discovering that one of the many women he sleazily picked up and used was someone important to his family; Jacob taking every opportunity to display his genitalia in Cals face; the 13 year old coming face to face with the man who slept with his mother, breaking up their marriage; and the 13 year old proclaiming his love for the babysitter in school in front of everyone. Five black holes. There were multiple points in the film that seemed to really drag, and somehow managed to always coincide with some of the most awkward moments. One black hole. I have to award multiple black holes for the writers taking the idea of moderation in plot coincidences out back, shooting it, and then desecrating its corpse. Three black holes. The story got so complex and convoluted Tolkien couldn’t have unraveled it. One black hole. I find the whole concept of women being so shallow and dumb that they can be picked up and used as easily at these guys do it in the film kind of annoying and offensive. It may or may not be true, but I am going to award a black hole regardless out of both solidarity to the women I respect and frustration that I can’t do these things. One black hole. And finally, one more for calling this film a romantic comedy when I can’t recall a single funny moment. One black hole. Total: twelve black holes.
I have looked at other reviews on this and most of the reviewers seem to side on the idea that this movie is sweet and good, but I have to go with my own feelings and my feeling was that, during the course of this movie, I really wished I was watching something else. Maybe I’m too much a guy to appreciate this film, or maybe just too cynical, as the theater was full of people that seemed to enjoy it, but nevertheless I stand on my final score of 5 black holes, a miserable score and the sign of a true injustice to the quality of the actors involved in this flick. This might make a good date film, as it will definitely lead to a deep conversation, but said conversation could easily drift into topics best avoided early on in the dating cycle. If you need a date film take her to see Friends with Benefits.