It’s hard to root for anyone in “Crazy Stupid Love,” which features several romances, instances of unrequited love, and break-ups.
From watching the trailer, you’d think the film follows Steve Carell’s broken marriage and Ryan Gosling’s budding romance with Emma Stone, but as noted by College Fix editor Katherine Miller, the commercials exaggerate the younger couple’s plot:
“[H]alf of it really drags and the ads deceive you into expecting a movie half about Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling romancing — it’s really only about 20 cumulative minutes.”
The film is primarily centered on Cal (Steve Carell), who walks away from his union to Emily (Julianne Moore) after she confesses to sleeping with a co-worker because the marriage has lost its spark. “CSL” seems to want you to think that Cal is at fault for this because he stopped striving for a fairy tale romance. The couple’s 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is upset by his parents’ situation but becomes so fixated on 17-year-old babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) that his mom and dad’s divorce hasn’t destroyed his spirits. Robbie continues to force himself on Jessica, who has a questionable crush of her own. The young brunette wants to end up with Cal, and it’s unclear whether this relationship would be creepier than that of Robbie and Jessica. I’m not ruining the movie by telling you that nothing ever comes out of these two wildly inappropriate teen wishes.
To deal with heartbreak, Cal flocks to the bar, where he rambles publicly about his floozy wife. Frustrated that Cal’s pity party has brought down the mood of the swanky bar, young Jacob (Ryan Gosling) tells cuckolded Cal to quit playing the victim and get some self esteem. According to womanizer Jacob, who hooks up with a new girl every night, Cal is responsible for his wife’s infidelity. Cal apparently lost his manhood in 1984, before his days of slouching in over-sized suits and sporting “Supercuts hair cuts.” When pretty boy Jacob takes Cal to the mall, you wonder why a gorgeous bachelor would do this for a defeated 44-year-old man. We later learn that Jacob’s home life probably influenced this decision, but it’s still hard to believe that someone as selfish, shallow, and arrogant as Jacob would take a desperate father under his wing.
Then there’s Hannah (Emma Stone), an aspiring lawyer who finds Jacob’s pick-up lines cheesy and insincere. At the beginning of “CSL,” Jacob unsuccessfully attempts to take Hannah home, but she ends up leaving the bar early in disgust. Besides, she has a dorky lawyer boyfriend to think about. In any other production, it’s easy to fall for Stone’s charm, which sadly doesn’t come through in “CSL.” Her character throws a tantrum in a restaurant when her significant other doesn’t ask her to marry him. Instead of popping the question, her boyfriend asks if she’d like to work at his law firm. Apparently a ring would have been much better security than financial independence. Insulted, Hannah rips him a new one and rushes back to the bar, where she intends to find Jacob for revenge sex. If the audience actually knew anything about Hannah’s relationship with this guy, maybe I’d understand her disappointment, but “CSL” spends no time on their background, so how can I comprehend or sympathize with her pent-up rage? I wanted to like Hannah but couldn’t get past her wedding hissy fit. It’s incredibly spoiled to treat a guy like that for not begging for your hand in marriage, especially if you never really loved him all that much. Aside from his career accomplishments, Hannah’s man doesn’t seem like much of a winner.
With that, Hannah uses Jacob as a rebound, plants an aggressive kiss on his mouth, and orders him to take her back to his place. I was pleasantly surprised by what takes place at his apartment and actually had hope for these two, even though Hannah becomes more nit picky, obsessed with Gosling’s perfectly engineered abs, and obnoxious by the minute.
Because of Hannah, Jacob retires his Casanova tendencies and actually wants to have a girlfriend. By this point, he has corrupted Cal, who begins hooking up with random women and ruining his chances at getting Emily back. There are several times in the film where you think they will reconcile, but something negative quickly follows and lowers the probability of this happening. I didn’t even want them to become a couple again, as Emily betrayed her husband, but I hoped Cal would learn to feel more comfortable in his skin.
The teen romances are a good break from the annoying adults. My favorite character is Jessica, a naive high school senior who is infatuated with Cal and determined to be with him. You’re relieved nothing happens with these two, but her innocence is endearing, and you know she’s just going to laugh about this silly crush in several months when she heads off to Stanford. She’ll fall for a guy her own age and have a hysterical story to tell about her DILF fantasies. You get the feeling that she’s going places, but you’re not totally sure about the other folks.
You’re also amused while Robbie tirelessly pursues Jessica, who has no clue how to explain to the young junior high school student that she longs for his dad. He puts on a public demonstration at her school to win her over, repeatedly says he masturbates to her, and begs her to consider dating him. Robbie will be able to laugh about this unusual story someday, and you hope his romantic ways will work out in his favor as he ages and grows into his figure.
With the exception of Cal, the children are the only redeeming characters in “CSL.” You’re relieved to see Jacob seek a healthy relationship but hesitant to believe he’ll remain faithful to Hannah for long. She’s a pain for being so demanding. Though she regrets messing around on her husband, Emily isn’t exactly trustworthy. Cal and Emily are drastically different people by the end of “CSL,” so it’s unclear whether they’d even still work well together.