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Crazy, Stupid, Love.(2011)
At forty-something, straight-laced Cal Weaver is living the dream--good job, nice house, great kids and marriage to his high school sweetheart. But when Cal learns that his wife, Emily, has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his "perfect" life quickly unravels. Worse, in today's single world, Cal, who hasn't dated in decades, stands out as the epitome of un-smooth. Now spending his free evenings sulking alone at a local bar, the hapless Cal is taken on as wingman and protege to handsome, thirty-something player Jacob Palmer.
For more about Crazy, Stupid, Love. and the Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray release, see Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 28, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon, Joey King
Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
» See full cast & crew
Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray Review
Great genre pics are rare. Great romantic comedies? The rarest of the rare...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 28, 2011
There's a moment in Crazy, Stupid, Love., a brief dramatic beat amongst many unexpectedly touching dramatic beats, that we've seen a thousand times before. Cal Weaver (Steve Carell), having watched his marriage erode to passing civilities, watches helplessly as his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) drives away, perhaps for the last time. As the music dares to creep in, a faint crack of thunder signals the inevitable: down-on-his-luck Cal is about to get rained on, a fitting but all too overused physical manifestation of everything welling up in our hapless husband's heart. But then, just as the skies produce a perfect Hollywood downpour on cue, Cal resigns to his fate, uttering "what a cliché." Crazy, Stupid, Love. (note the punctuation) dabbles in cliché. It toys with cliché. It tinkers in cliché. It all but embraces cliché. But directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and screenwriter Dan Fogelman don't buck or balk for a second. A cliché, they whisper from the center of Cal's thunderstorm, is a cliché for a reason. People are predictable creatures, and the things we find entertaining -- yes, even romantic comedies -- are an extension of the familiar. Heartbreak, loneliness, despair, desperation... latching onto that one little bright bit of levity amidst all the pain, feeling complete bewilderment at the universe's knack for raining on a rainy day, kindling the innate hope that helps the sad move on and the content push through.
The reason the vast majority of romantic comedies fail? In their pursuit of the next big laugh or the next tear-jerk encounter, they forget to root out the truth in the cliché. The reason Crazy, Stupid, Love. is different? Refreshing even? Witty and endearing as its characters are, they seem like such real people. Conventional as some of the situations they find themselves in become, it all somehow rings true. Clever and crafty as the story can be, it's the disarming simplicity and frank sweetness of Ficarra and Requa's romcom that sets it apart. No, not everyone will fall for Crazy, Stupid, Love. as truly, madly and deeply as my wife and I have, but those who do will recognize it for what it is: the rarest of the rare.
Cal's bad day, or days rather, don't start there, though. In a fit of honesty, Emily tells Cal she wants a divorce... over dinner, in a crowded restaurant, shortly before letting him in on a bigger secret she's been hiding for weeks: an affair with co-worker David Lindhagen (an understated but surprisingly likable Kevin Bacon). Shock gives way to dismay, dismay gives way to defeat, and defeat gives way to misery; misery that lures Cal into an upscale bar for two straight nights, rambling on and on about his new mortal enemy, David Lindhagen. (Say it. Soft on the "i," long on the "a." Lindhagen. It's fun.) There, he attracts the attention of Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a young, fashion-forward, Photoshop-abbed lothario who takes pity on Cal and decides to reacquaint the middle-aged sadsack with his inner man. But it isn't just scorn for Cal's velcro wallet that drives Jacob. It turns out our resident ladies' man is a much deeper well, one Ficarra and Requa draw from but never empty. Jacob also gravitates to a sharp young woman named Hannah (Emma Stone), a soon-to-be lawyer whose snarky confidence and cross-examination know-how makes her impervious to his particular bag of tricks. We know they'll eventually spend a night together, it's in the cards from the outset. Why else would we meet the fiery red head? But don't think you have a single storyline or relationship figured out for a second. Love doesn't play by genre rules, even when it wades into well-tread territory. The circumstances that lead to the film's various relationships may be conventional, but the relationships are anything but.
That's right. Crazy, Stupid, Love. doesn't pound every note to derivative or excruciatingly saccharine ends, and multiple viewings actually reveal delicate subtleties most will miss the first time around. Not that the film is an exercise in cerebral arthouse cinema, full of quirky eccentrics and fatalistic malcontents. Fogelman's lovelorn castaways are people first, characters second, and their lives are unpredictable, even when predictability presses in from all sides. Take Jacob and Hannah's first night together, easily one of the most infectious, funny, moving and believable first-nights on the romcom circuit. It's a rich, layered scene, but it's also breezy, effortless and charming. The stuff of real movie magic. We learn an incredible amount of information about Jacob in a few short lines... things that put everything prior to that night into crystallizing context. He doesn't offer up all his secrets; he doesn't have to. Anyone paying attention will assemble the pieces on their own and personalize the puzzle in ways even the most carefully constructed screenplay never could. Or take Cal and Emily. Ficarra and Requa don't ask us to choose sides; there's plenty of empathy for everyone. Come to think of it, there is no villain in Crazy, Stupid, Love. No antagonist, save misunderstanding and inadequacy. (David Lindhagen? Infidelity aside, he's a nice guy. You can almost picture him as the Everyman in his own alternate Crazy, Stupid, Love.) Every character, young or old, naive or jaded, seasoned or inexperienced, grapple with love and heartache and come away better and wiser for it, no matter how awkward, uncomfortable, painful or undeniably, affectingly sweet a process it might be.
Ficarra and Requa don't pound on the usual romcom comedic notes either. It never fails: romantic comedies present divorce and adultery as legitimate sources of laughs. They're not. Divorce isn't funny. Adultery isn't funny. Broken families aren't funny. Crazy, Stupid, Love. doesn't try to make these things funny. It allows each one to be as sad and tragic as it really is; it allows its characters to pine, to struggle, to squirm... to deal with tough issues the way normal people would, for better or worse. (Through sickness and in health, till death do us part.) It finds humor in the situations that develop as a result, but never in the division or betrayal. Ironically, it's a more optimistic film as a result, and some will criticize it for its lack of cynicism, even though that criticism will sound something like this: "it isn't crazy or stupid enough," "it starts strong but ends on a sappy note," or "it wraps up too neatly after going in so many intriguing directions." Nonsense, all of it. Crazy, Stupid, Love. is all about chemistry (or, on occasion, the lack thereof). And Fogelman, Ficarra and Requa aren't the only ones pulling their weight. Everyone on screen has the kind of chemistry other rom-coms would kill for. Carell and Moore, Carell and Gosling, Moore and Bacon, Stone and Gosling, Jonah Bobo (Cal's son, who's in love with the babysitter) and Analeigh Tipton (the babysitter, who's secretly in love with Cal), Carell and Bobo, even Bacon and Bobo... chemistry fuels every line, scene, dust-up, breakup and hookup. Love is as smartly cast as it is pitch-perfectly performed, as it is sharply penned and confidently directed. And you aren't likely to find a romantic comedy that will appeal to both sides of the gender gap as readily as this one. (The only thing that doesn't work? Marisa Tomei, who belongs in a different film, does a disservice to the few scenes she has, and can't disappear fast enough.) So before this review devolves into a sales pitch (which it arguably already has), do yourself a favor and give Crazy, Stupid, Love. a shot.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray, Video Quality
Crazy, Stupid, Love. slides up to the bar with a cool, confident 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. It isn't the sharpest presentation or the most striking, but it's attractive enough to turn a head or two. Colors are warm but lifelike, skintones are natural (even if some spray-tan oranges work their way in), black levels are generally nice and deep, and contrast, though a touch dark at times, is consistent and capable of handling both sunny daytime exteriors and dimly lit night clubs. Detail isn't as crisp as the next romantic comedy, but it's fairly revealing, filmic and faithful to its filmmakers intentions. Edges are satisfying, textures are reasonably well-resolved, grain is intact (albeit a tad uneven), and delineation doesn't disappoint (outside of two or three of the darkest scenes). Yes, softness intrudes on occasion and noise spikes a bit during a handful of shots. No worries, though. Most, if not all of it traces back to the source, nothing more. Artifacting, banding, aliasing, smearing and other digital anomalies are nowhere to be found, and a hint of ringing is the only thing that struck me as an issue. (And it's minor, even at its worst.) Long story short? No complaints here.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Love's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't the stuff of legend, but it handles the film's meek and meager sound design with ease. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, LFE support is light but more than serviceable, and rear speaker activity, though restrained and airy, creates a relatively engaging soundfield with enough ambience to fill out the few scenes that don't revolve around two-person conversations. The film's music is the most agile and assertive element in the soundscape, sure, but for all the chemistry on screen, there really isn't much sonic spark to speak of. Ultimately, Love's lossless track is everything it should be, even if it involves a quieter, more dialogue-driven experience than a crazier, stupider film might deliver.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Crazy, Stupid, Love. isn't a typical romantic comedy, even when it wanders into conventional territory. It's all too easy to fall in love with everyone on screen, and laughs and genuinely moving moments await anyone willing to shelve genre expectations and go with Ficarra and Requa's flow. Warner's Blu-ray release doesn't stand as far apart from the genre crowd, but it is a solid one. Its video transfer is faithful, its DTS-HD Master Audio track complements the film nicely, and its supplemental package is the only outright disappointment to contend with. Will everyone dote over Crazy, Stupid, Love.? No, but as long as you aren't looking for something wild, wacky and, well, crazy and stupid, it should leave quite an impression. Me? I fell for it, heart and soul.
Crazy, Stupid, Love.: Other Editions
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