What I learned from “Crazy Stupid Love”

Over the weekend, I went to see Crazy, Stupid, Love, starring Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. I didn’t expect to come away from the movie with anything more than an empty Raisinettes box and some new, pretty images of Emma Stone, so imagine my surprise when I found that I learned some things.

Lesson One: Julianne Moore can not stop cheating.

Hey, that’s not your husband. That’s Kevin Bacon.

Carrell and Moore play Cal and Emily, a married couple in crisis. After 25 years of monogamy, mortgage payments and mundanity, Emily announces that she cheated on Cal and now wants a divorce. As Annette Bening‘s partner in The Kids Are All Right? Cheated. As Catherine Stewart in Chloe? Cheated. The Hours? She ran out on her marriage to John C. Reilly without getting a divorce, so technically, probably cheated.

Lesson Two: The Gap is not cool.(Oh no!)

Before and After

Gosling plays Jacob, the confident, womanizing denizen of an upscale bar where hapless Cal now spends his lonely nights. Jacob notices Cal’s atrocious wardrobe – dated jacket, giant, droopy polo shirt, and well-worn, white, New Balance sneakers – and takes him under his fit, metrosexual wing. “You’re better than The Gap,” he tells Cal on their makeover mission at the mall, and promptly drags him into Armani.

Lesson Three: Women still love Dirty Dancing. And a guy who can laugh at himself.

Jacob may be good-looking and rich, but he also seems to know he’s living a shallow existence. So when the lovely and self-possessed Hanna, (Stone) finally gives into his charms and goes home with him, Jacob’s happy to share his biggest pick-up secret with her: He can do the Dirty Dancing move where Patrick Swayze lifts Jennifer Grey over his head. She insists he prove it, and runs at him. He swoops her aloft and holds her there. She has to admit, it’s pretty impressive stuff.

Hanna mocks Jacob’s swanky pad and his Sharper Image gadgets. Instead of getting defensive, he laughs at himself, too. Yeah, a
five thousand dollar massage chair is kind of ridiculous.
Jacob quickly realizes he likes talking to Hanna and wants to tell her personal things. Who wouldn’t want to tell Emma Stone personal things?

Lesson Four: Crazy Stupid Love had its crazy moments, but it wasn’t stupid.

For a guy known for animation movies like Cars, Cars 2, Tangled and Bolt, writer Dan Fogelman has created a film filled with flawed, yet likable adults, insights into the idea of “soul mates,” and lightens the messages with the comic genius of Marisa Tomei as a wack-a-doo teacher whom Cal picks up, using Jacob’s tried and true methods.

Steve Carrell gives Cal’s journey real heart, even when admitting he hates his new “slim-fit” sweater because it feels like a scuba suit. Julianne Moore’s Emily handles her yearning quietly and introspectively, while her 13-year-old son, Robbie, loudly declares his love for his babysitter, who in turn, has a secret crush on Cal. Love is complicated, no matter how old you are.

Aside from one cloying graduation speech I could have done without, Crazy Stupid Love is light and deft with its subject matter and has an obviously fantanstic cast. There’s also a third act twist, and it’s a big one. Everything comes together in a surprising way that you might not see coming. Kinda like love itself.