Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) – Review

Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love. is heartfelt, poignant, funny and mostly on target as a good romantic comedy/drama. The first thing that stands out about the film is how directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa structured the narrative. It is very atypical with multiple connected stories arcs and character arcs that start and stop outside the normal three act structure – though Cal’s arc very much follows the normal rom-com structure. This interesting structure across all the main characters arcs gives the film a real-life feel, which most films in the genre never even begin to approach. Ficarra and Requa have a very good handle on playing drama and comedy together. The drama in the film feels very real, but at the same time some of the moments are fairly devastating for the characters, making the ending feel very cheap and tacked on ultimately hurting the film a lot, as it does not fit. The pacing is also a bit funky due to different character arc starting and stopping at different times and not following the main narrative structure. It is a brave choice for the directors to make the film in this way, and it works for the most part, but not completely. Ficarra and Requa do great work with their characters too, but Emily feels very underdeveloped and sort of left out (as really with six main character stories going on, this was bound to happen to one of them). As for the comedy aspect of the film, the jokes are funny but the overall tone is fairly sad (as it opens with Cal’s family falling apart) and with all the major dramatic moments, it does not feel like a happy-ending type typical rom-com (which is good, but again makes the happy ending, while accustom to the genre, feel all the more fake). All in all, Crazy, Stupid, Love. works and is an interesting take on the rom-com genre, but it is too bad that the directors (whatever the reason may be) did not fully commit to their ‘real-life’ narrative and allow the film to take a more natural course. They allow, like most of this genre’s films, love to be overly idealized, which is fine in other cases but does not fit this narrative.

Technical, aesthetic & acting achievements: Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa were successful screenwriters, and now with two good comedy/dramas under their belts, they can be expected to make good films and be called good directors going forward. The music composed by Christophe Beck and Nick Urata goes well with the drama and comedy at play in the film, while Andrew Dunn’s cinematography is quite good for a rom-com. I really liked William Arnold’s production design, his set for the bar and especially the contrast between the characters’ homes and what that said about where they were at that stage of life. However, the film’s success is almost completely dependent on the performances of the actors – and they were very strong. Liza Lapira is very funny in her supporting role. Julianne Moore is a great actress, but is not really give too much to do in this film – though she is still good. Jonah Bobo and especially Analeigh Tipton are fantastic (Tipton giving a breakthrough performance). Emma Stone is funny, tough and sweet all at the same time. Ryan Gosling is really good playing his role as a typical douchebag guy but completely venerable. And Steve Carell, who is so great at playing a sad but comedic nice guy, is good yet again (he also served as a producer on the film, finding a good role for himself).

Summary & score: Crazy, Stupid, Love. could have been great, but does not quite get there. That said, it is still one of the best romantic comedies/dramas of the year. 7/10

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