I liked Crazy Stupid Love.
Then I wanted to fall deeply in love with it.
And then, when we separated, I couldn’t quite figure out why I wasn’t.
Well, truth is, I kinda knew. I knew when the first major scene between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone was a slice of movie perfection, balancing irony, romance, and the fantasies we all have about people who aren’t quite offering all that they are to the world.
Problem was… it was the B story that was skyrocketing. The A story was… nice and had a good personality. The C story was also a nip more interesting than the A story.
But okay… I’m still with this film… maybe that scene was the start of something GREAT.
And then, there is this massive, interesting, charming top-of-the-third-act twist… and it’s great… and yet, not.
So my brain is whirring, trying to figure out why this beautiful girl who is smart and loves me and loves sex and loves movies, etc, isn’t really The One.
The answer seems easy. Third act surprise should have been the second act surprise and the film needed to dump some of the boring stuff and let the exciting parts fly.
But then, I realize how odd this film’s construction really is and that it is really a souffle and that maybe it could be completely ruined by trying to fix it at all. Where you start and where you end in this tale feels right… it’s where the audience wants to go. But it becomes unwieldy and awkward through the middle.
Kevin Bacon, for me, gives another strong performance this summer in a role he shouldn’t have been cast in. He just unbalances his role in the piece by being… Kevin Bacon.
On the other hand, Marisa Tomei is pretty great… game… funny. Probably in the movie a little too much at one point because she draws focus, but she was just about perfect.
It’s Carell’s movie and he carries it effortlessly. Julianne Moore is without imperfection, but it’s not her film. Analeigh Tipton is a real find… a real-life version of Violet from The Incredibles, a couple of years further along in her development. A lighter Shelley Duvall. Jonah Bobo is not quite as interesting, but he never hits a false note.
And Gosling & Stone each get to flex their muscles. At least half of their line readings are hiding something and each manages to get across the text and the subtext perfectly. This movie frustrated me even more about Stone doing The Amazing Spider-Man because she should be doing leads, not playing The Girl, not matter how much more active this girl is than girls in Spidey’s past incarnations. Gosling remains The Next Great Hope for a male movie superstar. All he has to do is to want it enough.
So… in closing… LOVED parts of the film… liked most of the film… cast was solid and at times perfect. It’s a throwback to John Hughes and even further, to Howard Hawks or gentle Billy Wilder.
But it’s not the great film that its DNA wants to build. It could have been a true classic. But it’s not. It’s good. But it’s too complicated and too simple and too distracted and not distracted enough. And one straw of change could ruin the whole thing.
Thing is, when I look at screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s resume, I get it. Fred Claus, Bolt, Tangled. Very similar problems. I have no idea how rewritten this film was. The directors are screenwriters as well. But all four films were loaded with great stuff… and all four needed a strong producer who could break and reset the bones of the screenplays to take them from “good” to “great.”
There is a 5 minute sequence in this film that I would put on every loop of the greatest romantic films of all time. There is an entire film in those few minutes.
And then there’s the rest, which I won’t probably stop to watch when I pass by it on cable/satellite next year.
Wait. Lying. I will watch the movie again. Maybe a few times. Because I want to understand what went so right and what went so wrong.
Some people seem to LOVE this movie… some seem to have been really disappointed.
I get that.