The Fashionable “Crazy, Stupid Love.”
In Crazy Stupid Love, Emily (Julianne Moore) divorces her husband Cal (Steve Carrell), inadvertently making him spend the next few days being the Joe in an otherwise stylish bar, reaching his alcohol limit and yelling about her indiscretion with a David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). But as movies like these go, bar hopping Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) steps in to become his fairy godfather, helping him become a better, more fashionable version of himself.
Cal is the ‘other’ in a film decorated by other character’s leather footwear, great clothes or the bar’s intricate wall designs. I admire how this movie is both stylish and contemporary. But Cal’s makeover forces him to denounce brands and worship new ones that they might as well name the film Capitalism: A Love Story. Like the film tells us that good looks have a price and as movies are inherently products themselves, constantly has to sell you on aspects like its stars. We see Cal’s transformation, the close-ups showing him change externally and internally, realizing his family, friends, his lovers’ complex emotions and himself, making us see a sympathetic, good-looking man.
During his transformation, Cal wants to be a playboy like Jacob and a former’s ex-friend (John Carroll Lynch) starting to notice these changes. This isn’t the only time when characters relegate others as their ‘better,’ resulting in a chain of power dynamics like one between law student Hannah ‘Banana’ (Emma Stone), her best friend Liz (Liza Lapira), their non-competition over Jacob and Liz’s disapproval of Hannah’s prospective engagement with an unworthy guy named Richard (Josh Groban). Meanwhile, Cal’s children’s babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) follows a girl around her high school’s hallway, hoping to get advice about an older man’s attention.
If characters don’t have ‘betters,’ they still have unrequited loves, like Cal’s son Robbie towards Jessica or Kate (Marisa Tomei) for Cal, making them just as miserable for the film’s duration. Jacob, then, is pedestaled as everyone’s ‘perfect’ desirable person but he still ends up admitting to Hannah that he tries and fails in buying his way towards happiness.
The film’s unravels into a dénouement reminiscent of Restoration comedy, revealing the unrequited or reciprocated loves to others’ chagrin, making deliberate obstructions to these new relationships. Despite this flaw, the bar montages and others, it’s still stylish and tonally consistent, sometimes highlight the characters’ sincere conversations with each other. These actors and the soundtrack also give the film some warmth.