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Saturday, September 17, 2011

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(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, dated 17 September 2011, retrieved from

Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon and Analeigh Tipton
Directors: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Rating: 4/5
Once in a while, we all need to watch those movies where everyone finds love, damaged relationships are knitted back together, and nasty partners are supplanted by caring ones. And when some of the most talented actors in Hollywood – Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Marisa Tomei – come together in a romantic comedy of all things, you don’t want to miss it.
Crazy, Stupid, Love has all the ingredients of a multi-strand love story, along the lines of Love Actually and Valentine’s Day ­– broken marriage (1 nos.), unrequited yearning (2 nos.), boring relationship (Pssst! So boring, in fact, that the woman wants to have Conan O’ Brien’s babies – whaaa...! Anyway, 1 nos.), kid crush (1 nos.), and one rakish Casanova, smoother than whiskey, to garnish. Thankfully, the staple of I-found-the-soul-mate-who-was-my-best-friend-all-along has been skipped.
However, for all its formulaic, accidental meetings, this movie is not a candyfloss story that reignites one’s faith in love. It accommodates the complexities of the regular world, and while some of the turns are inevitably predictable, the final twist is artfully crafted, and if the gasps I heard at the movie hall were anything to go by, no one saw it coming.
Julianne Moore may drive in impossible heels without crashing, but the movie is far more attuned to the laws of the world than most others in its genre. At times, one senses the movie is laughing at itself and its cast – complete with sitar music to mark the entry of the Casanova – and at others, at the audience. Every time one thinks “what a cliché”, someone in the movie actually says it, removing most of the kitsch from the scene.
Steve Carell is funny even when he’s sad, and as the self-pitying suburban dad Cal Weaver, he’s sad a lot in this particular flick. Well, at least until he becomes arguably the first man to get a makeover in a multi-starrer. And the way he enunciates a certain word repeatedly has the potential to become as much a part of pop culture and spoofdom as “I’m too old for this sh**” and “I have had it with these &*#%$!@ snakes on this &*#%$!@ plane”.
Having seen Ryan Gosling as a Neo-Nazi, as a schoolteacher with a drug addiction, as an angst-ridden teenager and as the man who falls in love with a doll, one may be surprised by how seamlessly he fits into his role as the womanising Jacob Palmer in this movie.
Marisa Tomei plays one of the neurotic roles she is so good at, while Julianne Moore’s rather exaggerated portrayal of subtle emotions works for the movie. A special mention must be made of Analeigh Tipton, who – despite being a successful model – plays the awkward teenager to perfection, in only her second film.
There are times when the movie seems to be headed in the direction of Mrs Doubtfire and Kramer vs Kramer, which wouldn’t work for a romantic comedy. But just when it threatens to descend into maudlin, the script comes to the rescue, and the cast is talented enough to lift the story.
Among the other achievements of Crazy, Stupid, Love are that it makes one laugh without being corny, and that it manages to make fun of the Twilight series in a single phrase, injected into an emotional exchange.
After watching the movie, you could either wonder about family values and love and whether you should date the next guy or girl who hits on you in a bar and whether your soul mate could stamp on your foot as you leave the hall, or you could laugh, enjoy the warmth and fuzz, letch at Ryan Gosling and leave. It’s the perfect picture for a girls’ day out, for a post-breakup morale boost, and for a college gang comprising couples hitting on each other. As a non-member of the above categories, I’ll vouch that you won’t regret it even if you’re not on that list.


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