Movie review: 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' stars Steve Carell in winning performance
Cal Weaver is a portrait of middle-age, matrimonial ennui. At home, heâ€™s a bland, straight-laced family man who takes his pretty, high school sweetheart wife, Emily, for granted. At work, heâ€™s a t-crossing, i-dotting cubicle drone who wears sneakers with his khakis and oversize sports jackets.
But in the shrewdly written, smartly directed and beautifully acted â€śCrazy, Stupid, Love,â€ť Calâ€™s cozy cocoon home life and frumpy style get a harsh jolt of midlife angst when restless Emily (Julianne Moore, a lovely fount of fidgety frustration) announces in a restaurant one night that she wants a divorce.
That opening stanza in the filmâ€™s intricate domestic roundelay is played for rueful laughs, but it sets up a story (scripted by animation veteran Dan Fogelman) thatâ€™s informed by loads of traditional romantic comedy conventions that are then turned upside down and played as much for poignant drama as for warm-fuzzy humor.
Everyman comic actor Steve Carell portrays Cal with the sort of bewildered undercurrent of decency and regret that made his performance in 2007â€˛s â€śDan in Real Lifeâ€ť such a heartfelt and appealing breakthrough. In this, he continues his inevitable transition from TV performer to movie star.
Cast adrift in the garish, glassy world of singles bars â€” where predatory playboys such as the cool, sharp-dressed Jacob (Ryan Gosling in a revelatory comic performance) smooth talk their way through night after night of one-night stands â€” a morose Cal sinks deep into self-pity and listless drinking.
Then one night, for no apparent reason, Jacob takes pity on woebegone barfly Cal and decides to oversee a sartorial makeover and to school this forlorn schlub in the oily ways of picking up women in bars.
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