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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Romantic comedies are an incredibly difficult genre to wring any originality from. It has a tried and tested formula and one in which almost every single film of this nature follows to a tee. Which means that, to a certain degree, a romantic comedy is completely hamstrung by it's genre before it has even begun; there will never be any surprises in store for the audience. Well very refreshingly, Crazy, Stupid, Love approaches the genre from a very real and surprising place. For once, a romantic comedy has it's fair share of originality and twists that does wonders for the story. Led by the directors of last years uber-unconventional and very rude I Love You, Philip Morris, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, seem to have carved out a nice original niche in genre films. This films surprise factor plays a huge part in why the film works as well as it does. However, when a film is this tightly written and performed with spark by a great cast then any stale notions of what the genre might entail are swiftly forgotten. Love, it seems can drive people to do the most irrational of things. The most confusing and yet common emotion, the film rather smartly explores variations on the theme. Unrequited teenage lust, stale marriage woes and those first exciting springs of discovery in someone new are all smartly woven throughout the story. As a result, the film is most certainly romantic, but not in erring to the overly sentimental side of things. Unsurprisingly, sex has a huge part to play in connections with others. Steve Carell stars as Cal, a 40-something going through a very painful divorce with his wife, Julianne Moore. Frustrated by love and hamstrung by a very nerdish demeanor, professional womaniser Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes him under his wing to help teach him the ways of the mysterious woman. So what follows is a Hitch of sorts, with plenty of comedic material being derived from Cal's unfortunate adventures in this strange new world. Of course, things are not as simple as that, and the film has plenty of more tricks up it's sleeve throughout. Led by a smart, sassy and sexy script, characters are subtly developed so that while certain motivations for things might not be initially obvious, the more time we spend with these people, the more we understand about them. Wisely the film does not spoon feed the audience, but rather let's it's characters naturally progress onto events and earn the confusion, emotion and comedy that the film does so well. The only thing that the film let's itself down in, in fact, is a trite denonoument that trips over all the cliches and conventions it had smartly avoided for most of it's running time. It's not enough to derail the film, but it does leave a bad after taste when everything before was so much stronger. Overall, the film is a refreshing success. There was plenty of potential pitfalls throughout but for the most part, the film is an entertaining, witty and smart take on an otherwise stale genre. It also has the best scene set on a lawn you will see this year.
Apart from a disappointingly mundane and cheesy ending, the film offers plenty to say on the reality of love and sex and everything in between. A tight script effortlessly interweaves through a fantastic cast and the film has a fresh take on romance than is usual for a film of this type. Who says romance is dead?