My wife and I watched this movie, starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and more, last night. It was really funny, unlike, say, Date Night, which had its moments but wasn’t nearly as funny as this latest movie. But this movie isn’t nearly commendable for its humor so much as it is for its plot. I’m usually good at reading where the story is going to go, and I can typically tell you how it will end very early on. Example, never having seen or heard anything about The Village, in the first five minutes I told my wife that the village is a sham in a contemporary setting and the monsters are not real. Needless to say, she was mad at me. Not so with Crazy, Stupid, Love. I didn’t see it coming (it goes without saying, spoiler alert herein).
The relationship between Cal (Carell) and Jacob (Gosling) was very funny, but the plot made it seem completely arbitrary and independent to the short scene of Hannah (Stone) and Jacob. Imagine my surprise, and laughter, when it turns out that Hannah is Cal’s daughter–and it was Hannah who set Jacob straight, which was a complete reversal from Jacob setting Cal straight, ultimately leading to Cal becoming the alpha over Jacob. Clever!
I was also broadsided by the morally redeeming quality of the movie. Interestingly enough, probably 3/4 of the way through, I looked over at my wife and said, “This movie has a lot of work to do if it is to provide any morally redeeming quality.” I said this at about the time the 17 year old babysitter takes naughty pictures of herself to give to the man she loves, Cal, the father for which she babysits, in order to lead him to believe that she is not just a girl but a woman. I wasn’t sure how the movie would play this plot out. Would it try to suggest that 17 year old girls are right to do so? Would it try to say that it is okay to take revealing pictures of oneself and pass it on? Well, it failed in the latter but excelled in the former. It used the pictures to bring the climax to a hilarious close, a harsh and brutal encounter of the babysitter’s dad racing over to Cal’s house to beat him up, believing that Cal was in relationship with his daughter. This event simultaneously happens when Cal finds out that Jacob is dating his daughter, Hannah, to which Cal refuses to believe and rejects Jacob as a suitable boyfriend. The whole movie revolves around Cal’s divorce from his wife, who is in relationship with a coworker (played by Kevin Bacon). This coworker shows up to the battlefield of a scene, and Jacob, knowing what pain this man has caused Cal, walks up to this man and punches him in the face. Cal then runs up to Jacob and puts him in a headlock, still in disbelief that this womanizer is dating his daughter. And the babysitter’s dad is still trying to beat up Cal. The scene culminates in the four men sitting curbside in front of two policemen who were called in for a domestic disturbance. Hilarious I tell you, hilarious! So, the movie uses the naughty pictures not to send a message at first but to drive the climax of the story to a hilarious close. In the end, however, the babysitter gives the pictures, one can assume, to the 13 year old boy she had been babysitting, the very boy who had declared his love for her at the beginning of the movie. She seemingly forsakes her love for Cal and takes on adoration for the boy, Robbie, and, upon his graduation from middle school, as a gift, she gives him the pictures, suggesting it is okay to give naughty pictures to someone you love. Well, we can’t say with certainty that she gave the pictures to the boy, but it sure seemed implied. To that extent the movie fails. Apart from that, the movie is excellent, and I highly recommend it, because it speaks to the problems of divorce and sends a strong and laudable message–fight for your soulmate!
If you like romantic comedies, this one is really good. It will make you laugh. It isn’t stupid humor like Will Ferrel in Step Brothers. It is smart, witty humor, and it is backed by a good message.