Crazy, Stupid, Love: Casting Coup

Crazy, Stupid, Love
U/A; Romantic Comedy
Dir: Glenn Ficara and John Requa
Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon
Rating: * * * (out of 5)

Crazy, Stupid, Love is, first and foremost, a casting director's wet dream come true. If you took a look at the names above and wondered if this was an error on the reviewer's part, well, we forgive you. Boasting one of the best ensembles seen in any romcom this year, Crazy, Stupid, Love is quite an enjoyable time at the movies, generating harder laughs and more appreciative chuckles than your usual genre film. It is undone, however, by a distinct lack of consistency in tone and timbre.

Following the story of a 40-something exec Cal Weaver (Carell) whose marriage unravels after his wife Emily (Moore) confesses to cheating on him with her colleague David Lindhagen (Bacon), the film adopts a light-hearted approach, utilising Carell's legendary comic timing to its fullest. Cal befriends smooth-talking ladies' man Jacob (Gosling) under slightly hard-to-swallow circumstances and becomes a player himself, all the while struggling to reconcile with Emily. In a parallel arc (that later intersects with the main storyline), we see the attractive Hannah (Stone) who, frustrated with her lawyer boyfriend, ditches him to hook up with Jacob, whose advances she had spurned earlier.

Carell is in familiar territory here -- after all, Cal is a smarter and more sophisticated version of his character from The 40 Year Old Virgin -- and the actor goes through the motions, giving us nothing new but turning in a great performance nevertheless. The casting is so bang-on that it's almost a liability. Moore as the guilty woman? Check. Bacon as the smooth talking 'other guy'? Check. Marisa Tomei as the insecure 40-something singleton? Check. You could copy-paste these characters' performances from other movies and reconstruct them here without breaking into much of a sweat.

However, it's a testament to the talent of these individuals that they still manage to make some sort of an impact. The standout performance here is from the gorgeous Emma Stone, a smart, sassy actress currently making tsunami-sized waves in Hollywood. One of the most enjoyable scenes in Crazy, Stupid, Love involves her attempting to seduce Gosling in the latter's house. She asks him to take off his shirt, he obliges, and her instant reaction is, "Are you kidding me? It's like you're Photoshopped!" Classic.

However, the biggest problem with Crazy, Stupid, Love is that it doesn't go the distance. It had the potential to be a darkly hilarious look at modern American marriages and yet it settles for being an above average comedy of manners and errors.

The script has nuance, and yet the directors, Ficara and Requa, inexplicably choose to go for slapstick and downright, squirm-in-your-seat cheesiness. Two sequences in particular -- one, a Priyadarshan-esque free-for-all; another, a Karan-Johar-like school speech interrupted by a well-meaning father -- rob this movie of a few brownie points and prevent it from reaching its full potential.

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