CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE (Dirs. Glenn Ficcara & John Requa, 2011)
At the beginning of this ensemble rom com, after an opening montage of the feet of restaurant patrons playing footsy, Steve Carrell is told by his wife of 25 years (Jullianne Moore) that she wants a divorce. This sets off a chain of vignettes that are more about clichéd silly lust than what the title wants us to think.
This is a simple-minded movie more concerned with setting up cheap gags than actual character connection. Like in the scenario where Carrell befriends a womanizing Ryan Gosling at a bar.
Gosling assigns himself as Carrell's wingman, so, of course, there's a shopping mall montage where Carrell gets new hip clothes and a snazzier haircut, and before you know it he's a success with the ladies. This kind of sequence should've been retired the second the '80s ended.
Meanwhile, Carrell and Moore's 13-year old son (Jonah Bobo) has a crush on their babysitter (Analeigh Tipton) who he's over-texting, Moore is fending off the further advances of a sleazy co-worker who she had an affair with (Kevin Bacon, who's really getting around this year), and a seemingly unconnected Emma Stone is pining for Josh Groban as a dorky lawyer.
There are 2 twists that are revealed in this material - one which you can see coming if you are paying attention, and the other is of the "oh, come on!" variety. I won't spoil what they are, but I will say that one of them involves Marisa Tomei as a squirmy, and completely unconvincing woman that Carrell has a one-night stand with.
The cast defintely has plenty of comic chops (as in EASY A, Stone has a way with one-liners), and there are some juicy jokes here and there in CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE, but I cringed much more than I laughed. It contains a lot of talk about soul mates, but that's just audience pandering talk. I never believed it ever really cared about matters of the heart.
In one scene, Carrell watches sadly as Moore drives off and it begins to rain. Carrell: "That is such a cliché." It sure is, yet at least in that moment the movie owns up. If only it did at its other dishonest cloying turns, then maybe it would be a movie with a soul instead of a big screen sitcom that might as well have a laugh track dubbed in.