Monday, August 1, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Ryan Gosling's Guide to Being A Man.

Recycling photos may become a habit.
It's better if we all accept right now that Ryan Gosling is the pinnacle of all manhood.  Not douchy manhood, more like that one dude you met once who's ripped but actually cool.  Sure, he was in The Notebook, but also grew a sweet beard and built a house to spite a woman.  He picks solid, often unique roles, is in a pretty decent band, and he performs under the alias "Baby Goose," which is only badass because he's Ryan Gosling.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. could have gone in a lot of directions.  The trailer was cut quite well (although this could be attributed to the fact that Muse makes every movie seem enticing), surely appealing to those looking for Hitch 2, all the while hinting at something a bit more dramatic.  The result is something in the middle.  While Crazy, Stupid, Love. avoids a descent into the third act triteness of romantic comedies like Friends With Benefits (which was often hilarious but eventually lame), it hardly achieves dramatic relevance.  However, the result is a satisfying, funny comedy similar in feel to something like The Kids Are Alright.
The film's opening centers on Steve Carell reprising his role as Steve Carell.  Julianne Moore wants a divorce because she has been sleeping with Kevin Bacon, so Carell moves out and begins frequenting a bar that is obviously designed for the cast of Jersey Shore.  After a few days of announcing to the whole bar that Kevin Bacon has been sleeping with his wife, Carell is approached by Baby Goose, who offers to go all Will Smith on his ass and teach him how to retake his manhood.

I'm not going to comment on the whole plot here, because I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much as I did with Captain America, and also because its too hard to validate myself with sarcasm when discussing films I like.  Needless to say, Ryan Gosling does a fantastic job as the playboy turned monotonous boyfriend.  He delivers amusing mantras and comedic anecdotes in Baby Goose's trademark mumble and succeeds in taming Carell's occasionally obnoxious tendencies.

However, Carell does make some positive contributions.  After the first act, he stops--for the most part--being unnecessarily awkward, and does a solid job as a man renewed.  His relationship with his son, (the unfortunately named Jonah Bobo) is well-written--and the foundation for most of the film's hints at relevant commentary.  The contrast between adult/teenage relationships is never fully realized, but remains an amusing subplot throughout the film.

The only major shortcomings in Crazy, Stupid, Love. are the Emma Stone scenes sans Baby Goose.  She's dating what she refers to as, "a nice guy," but he really just seems like a douchy spaz.  These scenes never really go anywhere, contribute little to no comedy, and seem to exist only to occupy Emma Stone's time until its time for Ryan Gosling to go all Swayze on her ass (this literally happens).  This isn't too much of a big deal, as these scenes at least remind us that Emma Stone still exists in the world of the film, and the payoff once she ditches her dope is worth it.

Even the third act remains strong, which is rare in romantic comedies these days.  And although there is the obligatory speech at the end about how true love conquers all, it is easily forgiven after the hilarious climax, which is really the only point where the title's use of the word "Crazy" may actually be relevant.

Even if the term "romcom" gives you chills, you might actually enjoy this one.  It's superior, albeit similar to Hitch, but at least you won't have to sit next to a black baby in the theater.  It's not racist if it's a true story.


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