Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) *** Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
While watching the widely amusing new Romantic Comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love it occurred to me just how brain-dead this genre has become over the last decade. An endless series of cardboard cut out characters combined with inane dialogue and gross out situations has left this Movie Monkey dreading the feared Rom Com.
Crazy, Stupid, Love starring Steve Carell actually has something to say about modern love and relationships.
The film begins with Cal Weaver living under the assumption that his married life is perfect until his dissatisfied wife announces she wants a divorce and has cheated on him with Kevin Bacon no less. After this earth shattering announcement Cal goes on a downward spiral of drunken self loathing until he meets the ultimate playboy Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) who teaches him some moves and tries to help him win back his ex.
The film goes over familiar territory but puts a different spin and actually gives it characters something insightful to say. While watching it I couldn’t help but compare this to an unofficial sequel to Carell’s The 40 Year Old Virgin where Andy has been married for a few years to his true love and eventually loses interest, gets lazy and dumped only to be nurtured back to relationship health by his friends. Interesting movie with some unique characters and as always Emma Stone is outstanding.
Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) ***
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Emma Stone
“You know what really grinds my gears?!” When a movie starring the outstandingly talented John C. Reilly and the always charming Marisa Tomei gets marketed as a zany comedy about a dysfunctional 21-year-old man-child still living at home with his mom who becomes increasingly jealous of the new boyfriend in the picture and will stop at nothing to sabotage the relationship between this poor sap and his mother whom he has an awkwardly parasitic relationship with. Then the film turns out to be a somber exercise in self loathing and pity with barely any conflict whatsoever.
I feel like that old episode of Family Guy where Peter Griffin goes on TV and tells the world everything that pisses him off and what “really grinds my gears!”
If this film would have been marketed as a cold character study about a pitifully dependent son and his mother the enabler, I would have given this film a totally different review and actually understood the message they were trying to convey. But unfortunately the directors, I say plural because there were two directors that helmed this monstrosity of a film, saw fit to make one film but say it was another.
This film could have been hilarious with a better script and Director. The actors did exactly as written in the script and failed at all costs. I’m going to quote the New York times when they described this film as an “almost aggressive lack of ambition.” They could not have come up with a better description.
Why didn’t Jonah Hill’s character go deeper with his psychosis? Why was there barely any conflict between the Son and Boyfriend besides a few weak lines of dialogue? Why didn’t he continue his quest to utterly destroy the life of his mothers suitor instead of giving up so easily? Why didn’t they explore more in detail why the son is so dependent on his mother? Why didn’t Jonah Hill actually do something with the personal information he discovered from the boyfriend and used it to ruin him?
This should have been like a comedic Fatal Attraction with your girlfriends wicked conniving immature son.
The character of the dependent son should have been played by an actor who wasn’t afraid to take risks. As lowbrow as it may seem, this film would have done a lot better if it would of had the cast and crew of a typical Adam McKay/Judd Apatow comedy where John C. Reilly would have been tormented and driven to the point of hilarious insanity and had every aspect of his life ruined. But the film-makers played it safe and failed miserably.
Watch this only if you enjoy being bored by an immature man-child with a freakishly dependent relationship with his mother.
Cyrus (2010) **
Directed by Mark & Jay Duplass
John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener