CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE — CALL IT WHAT YOU WILL AS LONG AS IT MAKES YOU HAPPY
By Laura Schreffler
I’ll be honest with you: I’ve been dying to see Crazy, Stupid, Love ever since my first glimpse of Ryan Gosling‘s rock hard abs in the film’s trailer. But before you go thinking I’m totally shallow, let me set the record straight: Ryan’s chest, stomach, legs and butt may have been the catalyst for my interest, but the film hooked me on its own. It is provocative, realistic and refuses to back down from the premise that love doesn’t have to make sense.
The film begins with schlubby Cal Weaver (Steve Carrell) dining in a fancy restaurant with his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore). The camera pans to his tweed jacket, his “Super Cuts” haircut and his white New Balances; Cal is the fashion world’s version of an ugly duckling in a sea full of swans. When he asks Emily what she wants for dessert, she pauses before blurting out, “I want a divorce.”
And they’re off! While Cal deals with losing the love of his life — after 25 years of marriage and three kids, she cheats on him with a fellow account (Kevin Bacon) — the bitter protagonist wallows in self-pity at a local trendy pick-up lounge.
Cue Gosling’s Henry Higgins-esque character, Jacob Palmer, the bar’s resident lothario. He’s a honeytrap that women don’t mind getting ensnared in, sleeping with an discarding a new one each night. Without a clear motivation other than Cal “reminds him of someone”, Jacob takes the love loser under his wing, changes his look and teaches him how to become a womanizer.
But something funny happens while this perpetual ladies man is teaching Cal the ways of women: he falls in love. Just as Cal has to be taught how to get his groove back, Jacob has to to open himself up to the terrifying realization that he’s tumbling head over heels for the sassy and whip-smart law student (Emma Stone) Hannah.
But why did I love this film so very much? I’ll tell you: it’s real. There is very little of that cheesy Hollywood fantasy BS that makes real relationships seem like a letdown after two hours in the cinema.
After a brazen attempt to go against her nature and seduce Jacob, Hannah and he end up in bed… talking. They have one of those magical conversations that are so rare these days, when you literally stay up all night finding out everything you possibly can about the other until you’re too exhausted to speak anymore. Heck, I haven’t had one of those since an all night phone conversation back in high school! But I yearn for one… and soon.
My own personal fantasy being played out on celluloid isn’t the only reason I adore this movie. I like the uncertainty of not knowing how Cal’s love story is going to turn out. He makes an impassioned speech about soulmate’s at his son’s middle school graduation, and seems strong in the fact that, while he may have lost her, how he was lucky enough to have known true love.
I love that the characters in Crazy, Stupid, Love make a metamorphosis for love, despite knowing that people rarely change in real life. the hope that finding the right person can make anyone commit.
There was no fairy tale ending here, but I was rooting for one anyway even as the credits rolled. This film — and the characters in it — are real and very flawed. You cannot hate any of them for their humanity.
Relationships aren’t always easy, people aren’t perfect. The road you’ll take will most likely be riddled with bumps, potholes and stop signs. How can you truly be happy in a life devoid of love, even if it isn’t clear-cut and simple? Love is crazy and stupid — but I wouldn’t wish anyone a life without it.
Enjoy the ride.
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About the Author: Laura Schreffler is a former New York Daily News columnist who left the world of celebrity behind to focus on what makes her happiest — love and travel. She is the creator of LoveTrekker.com — a website devoted to these two passions that she fondly calls “looking for love in all the right places.” In her spare time she likes to play matchmaker for her friends, dream about her next vacation and gaze at photographs of Taylor Kitsch. For more advice on love, relationships, and happiness, check out http://lovetrekker.com & her book "Internet Dating 101". And follow her here at Happiness Series with her weekly blog about finding love.