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Crazy, Stupid, Love.

There were more than a few times, while watching the potpourri of plots and characters that is Crazy, Stupid, Love, that I found myself wondering: Is this all going anywhere? It’s not one of those multiplane movies like Magnolia or Love Actually where it only becomes clear at the end how the characters all relate to each other—it’s all centered on the family of middle-aged milquetoast Cal (who else but Steve Carell). The film starts with him getting an unexpected request for a divorce from his wife of 24 years, Emily (Julianne Moore).

The first few reels play like a muted sequel to The 40 Year Old Virgin as Cal gets lessons in being a swinging single guy from Jacob (Ryan Gosling, playing against type), who never has trouble picking up whatever sweet young thing he wants at the local bar. But after a while, the story starts taking aimless detours to follow what only seemed to be marginal characters, like the babysitter (Analeigh Tipton) who has a crush on Cal while Cal’s son has a crush on her, or Hannah (Emma Stone), the overworked law student whose friend tries to get her into a tension-relieving hookup. In its spare moments, the movie even devotes a little space to Emily’s midlife confusion, though hardly enough to make her an equal player in the proceedings. (One wonders if the script that Moore signed on for was more substantial than the final product.) I can warn you not to hold out hope for the conclusion that ties everything together, because when it comes you’re amazed at how hard the script worked for such a tortured, unlikely, ineffective result. It’s better enjoyed for its parts than as a whole, especially for two unlikely seductions scenes, the first between Carell and Marisa Tomei, the other with Gosling and Stone. It was written by Dan Fogelman, whose previous scripts have been kids movies (Bolt, Cars, Tangled) and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who as writers switched between kiddie product like Cats and Dogs and the gleeful bad taste of Bad Santa. Despite the PG-13 rating parents are unlikely to be taken the family to this one, but those considering it should be warned that the film takes a tolerant approach to underaged girls taking naked photos of themselves.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Crazy, Stupid, Love.

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