The first comedy-drama to be produced by and starring Steve Carell since his exit from the television show The Office, Crazy, Stupid Love features a fabulous cast doing their best with a script that's quietly amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny, and characters which don't quite ring true.
Written by animation screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Cars, Tangled, and Bolt), and directed by the two guys who brought us I Love You Phillip Morris, Crazy, Stupid Love is an ensemble film, weaving together a series of relationships that overlap with both humorous misunderstandings and predictable results.
Carell plays Cal Weaver, whose life is turned upside down when his wife and high school sweetheart Emily (Moore) suddenly announces she's slept with a work colleague and wants a divorce. As Emily undergoes a mid-life crisis, Cal hits the local bar where he becomes the pet project of slick lothario Jacob Palmer (Gosling) who's determined to sharpen Cal up and get him back in the dating game.
Carell is best when playing extreme characters, such as the heartfelt Andy in The 40 Year Old Virgin. When it comes to the straight laced normal guy routine he seems to lose his edge; in this case his performance is almost eclipsed by the kid playing his 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo). Robbie's refreshingly confident at 13 and prepared to make a fool of himself in front of anyone if it helps woo his "soulmate", his 17-year-old babysitter Jessica.
Gosling also struggles to shine. At first it's almost embarrassing to watch the star of Blue Valentine and Lars and the Real Girl play the shallow womaniser with the dreadful pick up lines - no matter how dapper he looks. His performance loses some of its cringe factor when Hannah (Stone), a smart young lawyer, arrives on the scene.
Stone is responsible for the moment when you think you could actually get on with these people; when Gosling takes off his shirt to reveal a perfectly toned and spray tanned chest she quips, "Seriously? It's like you're Photoshopped."
The message of Crazy, Stupid Love, which is more stupid than crazy, is that love hurts but is worth enduring. It's not the most memorable discourse on love, but it's a sweet, occasionally smart screwball comedy, and not a bad way to kill a couple of hours if you're in need of some pleasant, lighthearted escapism.
Cast: Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Running Time: 118 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language & sexual references)
Verdict: Great cast and good fun even if it's a little forced