This 2011 romantic comedy stars the likes of Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon, as well as Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The basic premise is that a recently divorced man (in his mid-40s) befriends a womaniser who teaches him how to pick up women and have some fun now that he is single again. Ryan Gosling was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in the film.
It is now coming up to a year since my Artificial Bionic Biological Intelligent Entity entered my life, and during the first few months of her creation was content to keep me company onboard my ship and help with keeping the systems running smoothly. She used to spend her downtime watching YouTube videos, but has since branched out into watching television shows and films. When she was first activated we used to sit down and watch films together but as the year wore on we stopped doing that so much. However in recent weeks we have decided to bring back our Movie Night. The premise of which is one week she chooses as film to watch and the next I do. We both agreed to watch the film the other put on, no pretending to deactivate (like she used to do) and no pretending the reactor needed emergency maintenance (which was my technique if she put on something I did not want to watch). I saw this as an opportunity to educate her on some of the best films out there that she would never choose to watch. I am planning on showing her the Back to the Future Trilogy, The Terminator films (the first and only two) and some of my other favourites. Her selection resulted in me watching The Proposal a fortnight ago and this week she put on another rom-com...Crazy Stupid Love.
Abbie and I sat down to watch a film that she has seen before but was completely new to me, I cannot honestly be sure if I’d even heard of it before now.
The film opens with Cal (Carell) and his wife Emily (Moore) having dinner at a restaurant, where out of the blue she tells him that she wants a divorce. As they are driving home, Emily goes on to tell the understandably stunned Cal, that she has cheated on him and had sex with a co-worker David Lindhagen (Bacon). Cal moves out of the family home he shared with two of his children and wife Emily into his own apartment.
For the next few days or weeks Cal spends his nights sitting at a bar drinking by himself, plus complaining to everyone around him about his wife and how she cheated on him. Another patron of the bar, Jacob (Gosling), a womaniser that takes a different woman home for casual sex every night, grows increasingly irritated with overhearing Cal’s complaining. One night he summons Cal to his table and tells Cal to meet him the following day at a shopping mall. Jacob gives Cal a complete makeover and takes him under his wing teaching him how to pick up woman, and helps to restore Cal’s confidence in himself. Thanks to Jacob’s teachings Cal is able to successfully seduce a woman named Kate, and after her becomes a womaniser in his own right.
Meanwhile Cal’s thirteen year old son, Robbie is trying to win the heart of his 17-year old babysitter Jessica who accidently walks in on him playing with himself. She is mortified and tries to forget it but he keeps telling her that he has fallen in love with her. Not to be put off because he is convinced that she is his soul mate, Robbie keeps trying to woe her with text messages, presents and various grand gestures in the hopes that she will one day be his.
Meanwhile, meanwhile it turns out that Jessica is attracted to Cal, but naturally he only sees her as the daughter of his former best friend Bernie. Bernie is his former-best friend because when Cal and Emily split up, Bernie’s wife decided that they were going to continue being Emily’s friend so Bernie could no longer be friends. After consulting a slutty girl at school, Jessica decides that the only way for Cal to see her as a young woman instead of a child is for her to take some suggestive photos of herself naked and send them to him.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, meanwhile Jacob meets a woman that he starts to fall for as she is unlike any other woman that he has met before...
Okay now I am going to get the obvious stuff out of the way first, the film does have its moments when it made me laugh out loud, not because it was bad but because the jokes worked. It also has a fine pedigree of talent in front of the camera. Ryan Gosling is effortlessly charming as the womanising Jacob that never comes across as a user of women. I remember watching Two and a Half Men and Charlie Sheen’s character (creatively called Charlie) would go to various bars and pick up women but they always seemed to be drunk when he brought them home. There is an episode when his pick-up lines are exposed and he is shot down by woman after woman, suggesting that getting a woman drunk is the only way he can get them into bed. Jacob, on the other hand is able to use his skills, his looks, his charm and naturally his confidence to pick-up women. He never comes off as a creep and his friendship with Cal is based upon him wanting to see a broken man regain his manhood and lost confidence.
The cast are all on fine form and there are plenty of jokes...however there are also numerous issues that really irritated me.
The first one that I want to talk about is Robbie, the thirteen year old who keeps trying to convince Jessica that the two of them belong together. Now tell me if this sounds sweet or sinister. Boy tells girl that he loves her, girl tells him she is flattered but is in love with someone else, boy refuses to take no for an answer and sends her text messages, girl tells boy he is making her uncomfortable, boy continues to pursue her. Boy arrives at her (school in this case) once again declaring his love in front of her friends and schoolmates embarrassing her, girl tells him straight that this has got to stop as she is not interested in him. Boy leaves flowers at her front door...and so it goes on. Now if an adult was chasing a woman in this manner would anyone consider it adorable or would everyone be asking the guy what the fuck he was doing. If a woman has told someone flat that they are not interested and that person keeps following them, showing up at their school, sending them messages as well as presents they would be considered a stalker. That is what Robbie is, he is a creepy, little stalker. If he is like this when he is thirteen, imagine what he’ll be like when he is twenty-five or thirty, if he sets his sights on a woman and is turned down can you really tell me that kidnapping, raping and killing them wouldn’t be something that he would do??? Jessica is in no way attracted to him, and he refuses to leave her alone. There is a moment in the film when he finally seems to get the message and he is seen deleting her number from his phone, this is portrayed as a sad moment as the heartbroken boy deletes the number of the woman he loves. Yet I was watching this thinking that finally this weird and potentially dangerous little freak is finally going to leave Jessica alone. Sadly by the end of the film he is once again back declaring his undying love for her, once more declaring her to be his soul mate and this is considered to be a happy ending???
On the subject of Jessica, she is cute enough and is obviously only seen as a child by Cal. The decision to take nude photos of herself to give to him, might make sense to the mind of a teenage girl, but in America the legal age for people to have sex is twenty-one. She is seventeen. Therefore technically the photos that she takes of herself are child pornography and if she had given them to Cal then he could have gotten into huge amounts of trouble. The photos she takes are found by her mother and shown to her father who naturally goes after Cal, the thing is that Cal has no idea that Jessica has feelings for him nor that she has taken those pictures.
This leads me to the biggest problem with the film...Cal is the wronged party!!!!!
Throughout the film his best friend severs ties with him because his [Bernie’s] wife has chosen to side with Cal’s adulterer ex-wife Emily. When she discovers that Cal has become a womaniser she reacts like he has absolutely no right to sleep around. Cal also talks about the fact that he gave up in their marriage, he became lazy, that the pair stopped doing fun things and so on...BUT...there is nothing to say that Emily tried to keep their marriage alive. In Forgetting Sarah Marshall the titular Sarah Marshall breaks up with her boyfriend Peter, and later on he accuses her of not trying to keep their relationship alive. It is then that we learn that she tried to get him to go to counselling sessions, suggested trips away (it’s been a while since I saw the film so I’m going off what I remember) but he was the one who wasn’t interested in doing those things. Therefore the break up wasn’t all down to her. In Crazy Stupid Love it seems that everyone is against Cal and he is vilified time and time again throughout the film.
The first woman that Cal seduces, Kate, turns out to be Robbie’s teacher who is very bitter about the fact that Cal had sex with her and then never called her again. The thing is that if she’s have asked his surname she might have twigged that Robbie Weaver and Cal Weaver are related as Cal does tell her he has children. So if she went to bed with a man she’s just met in a bar, and doesn’t know his last name, do we really think this is the first time she’s taken a random guy home??? It is demonstrated early in the film that if a woman is not interested then Jacob’s techniques won’t get him anywhere. Kate and Cal are two consenting adults. He is single and so is she, so her behaviour towards him is not just unfair it is hugely unprofessional. Presumably if it became known that she’s had sex with one of her pupil’s father then her career as a teacher would come to a screeching halt, for the sake of her career then, you’d think she’d want to keep her night with Cal a secret, not be shouting after him down the corridors of the school she works in.
People turn on Cal with Bernie’s wife saying that they were right to side with Emily, but Emily cheated on Cal, she had sex with another man whilst she was still married. Cal is Single. Therefore he can do as he pleases and all this bullshit about soul mates falls completely flat because if Cal and Emily were soul mates than she wouldn’t have allowed another man to stick his cock inside her. If she’d got a peck on the cheek or even kissed another man, then okay maybe Cal running off and sleeping with an array of woman would be an extreme reaction to her leaving him. But Emily had full on sex with her co-worker.
The story seems to be rather backward. If it had been Emily trying to get Cal back, trying to remind him why they fell in love, and her admitting that she was at fault then fine but it isn’t. It got so grating watching Cal trying to win her back time after time when he should have embraced his new womaniser lifestyle because for the first time in his entire life he is actually able to have some fun, he is working out, and he is taking better care of himself.
I spent a lot of the film wondering what is wrong with the majority of the people in the film, with the acceptation of Jacob and Cal. Jacob makes no excuses for whom and what he is. He doesn’t get a woman drunk before he takes them home, they are all willing and consenting, when he meets someone that he begins to fall for it is good to see him starting to realise that there is more to life than an endless stream of meaningless one-night stands.
I like both Cal and Jacob, but Robbie is a creepy stalker. Jessica is trying to seduce Cal even though if he ever did anything with her he would be guilty of statutory rape. Emily is an adulterer that had sex with a co-worker even though she was married at the time. Kate acts like she and Cal had a deep meaningful connection not just casual one-night stand. Bernie is a spineless wimp that ditches his best friend because his wife told him to and then acts like Cal is screwing his daughter when they see Jessica’s nude pictures...the list can really go on and on.
In all honesty I did like the film when in centred on Jacob teaching Cal how to become more confident in himself and it seems obvious that Gosling is relishing playing Jacob. The characters are well acted but to me the story is completely backward, I didn’t like Cal being villain-ised for basically doing nothing wrong when it should have been Emily trying to win him back and Cal having to choose between deciding whether to trust her again or continue with his new womanising lifestyle.
I am really trying to decide what rating to give the film, there are reasons to give it a Thumbs Up, leave my Thumb Horizontal, and even give it a Thumbs Down. I asked Abbie and she said that if it was her then she’d give the film a Thumbs Up and honestly when I saw it, I could have quite happy done that too. The more I have thought about it though, the more I dislike so many of the characters and the way Cal is made into the villain when he has done nothing wrong. I would be leaning more towards giving it a Thumbs Down, perhaps I have just over thought things and should have just sat back and enjoyed it without thinking about it too much. There are good points and there are bad points, I think both even one another out so I’ll leave my Thumb Horizontal and say that Crazy Stupid Love can be very good, funny and charming, it can also be very annoying and the supporting characters really irritating.
5/10 – There are good and bad things about the film. I think the best thing to do is perhaps leave your brain at the door when sitting down to watch it, otherwise you’ll spend the whole time noticing the massive flaws and creepy characters, like I did.