CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. Blu-ray Review

     November 14, 2011

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Crazy, Stupid, Love. was directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, best known for having written Bad Santa. They wrote and directed I Love You, Phillip Morris and it seemed of their sensibilities, but with this film they seem to be making a bid to work in the studio system by directing Dan Fogelman‘s script – who’s best known for kids films. The film stars Steve Carell as a man going through a divorce and gets dating advice from Ryan Gosling on how to close a deal. But Carell is still in love with his wife, Julianne Moore, and Gosling connects with Emma Stone, which throws a monkey wrench into their bar scene days. Our review of Crazy, Stupid, Love. on Blu-ray follows after the jump.

crazy-stupid-love-movie-poster-7The film begins with Cal Weaver (Carell) and his wife Emily (Moore) having dinner and breaking up. She had an affair with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon), which sends Cal into depression as his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) sheepishly admits she’s crushing on him. Alas, this upsets Cal’s son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) as he’s crushing on Jessica. Jacob Palmer (Gosling) is a bar patron who is a devil with the ladies, even though Hannah (Emma Stone) seems to not only catches his eye but seems to be different.

Cal goes to Jacob’s bar and Jacob sees that Cal needs help and so he teaches him in the ways of bar mating, and gives him numerous fashion tips. It takes Cal a while, but after a night with Hannah (Marisa Tomei) – who is turned on by his honesty – he figures out the bar scene. But then Jacob meets Hannah again, and Cal’s still in love with his wife, which his son points out.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a creaky ship, I think partly because it seems so studio formula, but the players are engaging enough to make it worthwhile. I guess the problems are that it keeps going in simpler directions. Cal may still love his wife, but the idea of them reconciling is more Hollywood convention than a reality. It’s the sort of decision that we’ve seen in the era of 1980’s divorce comedies, where the couple who start the film getting divorced are hitched together again by the conclusion. Most divorces don’t end that way so it feels strained, even if it works in movie terms. I wish the film would let Cal move on with his life, but then there are some great touches – like when he breaks back into his house to tend the garden.

The biggest fault with the film is that it’s so obviously told from the male’s perspective that the only characters who get to live on screen are Carell’s and Gosling’s. Both give star-caliber performances in the film, but – sadly – Stone and Moore are treated as props. There’s a big third act reveal that I didn’t see coming, and though it’s definitely set up, it turns one of the characters into a plot point. Here this turn really insulted me, because I liked the character before her purpose as a plot machination was revealed. A lot of rom-coms these days are geared as much – if not more – toward men than woman, and that the only people to identify with are the men works against the movie. On top of that everything with the babysitter/teenage boy subplot feels like filler, which would have been redeemed if the directors channeled some of their worst impulses and ended the film with a triumphant walk to the bathroom.

At the end of the day, Crazy, Stupid, Love. functions like many of the better romantic comedies in that it’s a showcase for its stars. But where most rom-coms highlight a couple, in this case that couple is Gosling and Carell. Perhaps in that way it is a continuation of Ficarra and Requa’s work on Phillip Morris, but this is one of those films that when the dialogue is sharp and juicy it occasionally achieve something greater than anything Katherine Heigl’s done. But the framework…

The Blu-ray is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD master audio. Recent films on Blu-ray look picture perfect and this is no exception. The set also comes with a DVD and digital copy. Extras include “Steve and Ryan Walk into a Bar” (7 min.) where the two riff on the making of the film and their characters. It’s followed by “The Player Meets His Match” (6 min.) which lets Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling talk about their relationship. The disc closes out with deleted scenes (12 min.), including an alternate ending. All the cuts are smart, but there’s funny back and forth between Carell and Gosling.

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