Bulldog Cinema: Crazy, Stupid, Love

I knew the day would come and I dreaded it with all the flop-sweat terror of a death row convict about to stroll the Green Mile for the last time. Last Thursday, Nicole announced that in the wake of a temporary palace coup in our relationship, that evening’s movie would be one of her choosing. “Oh dear God,” I thought to myself, “this is her revenge for all those times I farted in the car and bragged about it.” So what’ll it be? A remake of Steel Magnolias? Beaches – Part II? Will I have to wear a sanitary napkin to the theater? Can I expect to start growing breasts during the opening credits?

Let the liberals continue to dwell in a fantasyland where men and women are distinguished only by their differing genitalia and nothing else. Those of us who dwell in Reality Heights know otherwise – hence the categorization of certain motion pictures into  “chick flicks” or “dick flicks.” Those rare flicks that simultaneously evade the either/or designation while cleverly combining aspects of both are known simply as “classics,” be they seven years old (Just Friends) or seven decades old (Casablanca).

Without question, that evening’s offering was a chick flick.  While Nicole purchased the tickets I ambled to the snack counter, where I ordered a medium sized bag of butter with some popcorn in it, figuring that if my aorta actually did congeal into a hockey puck during the previews, I’d be spared the agony that would follow; the clerk laughed out loud and obliged me. He understood. He’s one of us.

I gritted my teeth and entered the dark theater.

When the house lights came up after the movie ended, I looked around and observed to my astonishment that I was one of only three males present – and one of the other two appeared to be wearing a shock collar. As we left the theater, I wondered to myself if a maintenance crew was already at work steam-cleaning the estrogen off the walls and the seats.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 118 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language
Stars: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei

According to the IMDB entry,

Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have the perfect life together living the American dream… until Emily asks for a divorce. Now Cal, Mr Husband, has to navigate the single scene with a little help from his professional bachelor friend Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). Make that a lot of help…

I will state at the onset and for the record that I was pleasantly surprised: I actually enjoyed this movie. What begins with a blurted “I want a divorce,” builds with comically convoluted – and not entirely predictable – precision to a climax that packs a couple of nice, ironic plot twists, the kind that were the brilliant hallmark of the old Seinfeld series in its latter seasons.

The script is crisp and tightly written – too tightly in some places. For one thing, we know very little about the relationship between Cal and Emily and therefore have little incentive to care one way or the other if they ever reconcile. For another, Gosling’s Jacob is possessed of the sort of preternatural suavity and wit than can come only from the fingertips of a screenwriter on a computer keyboard.

What drives this rom-com in a direction that veers from the usual  formula are the delicate convolutions of the plot, the sub-plots and the sub-sub-plots – all of them involving romance and all of them pregnant with future disaster: Emily’s one-night fling with an office associate triggers a profound episode of navel gazing that impels her to divorce her nebbishy husband. While drowning his sorrows in umbrella drinks at a local club, he is approached by the local Lothario – a trust-fund millionaire libertine who appears to have perfected the art of female seduction. For reasons known only to himself and God, Jacob takes Cal under his wing and attempts to craft him into a clone of himself – even in the wake of his humiliating failure to seduce Hannah, a young lawyer who spurns his advances in the mistaken belief that the boss with whom she is in love will requite the sentiment. Meanwhile, Cal’s 13 year-old son Robbie is hopelessly in love with the babysitter – 17 year old Jessica – who is hopelessly in love with Cal. And all this time, in spite of nine successful conquests, Cal cannot fully erase the memory or the longing for the sweetheart of his high school youth.

Needless to say, it all comes together in the final act (as all rom-coms do). The last scene is a bit contrived and although you might come away with the feeling that the film editor could have trimmed between ten and fifteen from the final cut, you will still feel entertained.

Before I forget, keep an eye out for Marisa Tomei’s hilarious, over-the-top performance as Kate, an English teacher and one of Cal’s post-tutorial conquests who becomes positively demented after he fails to ever call her back. It’s worth the price of admission.

For those of you who have bookmarked Rotten Tomatoes: I disagree somewhat with their recent rating of 76%: while Crazy, Stupid, Love is entertaining, I still have a little more fun treeing a cat. Nevertheless…if you have a significant female other, she will be glad you took her to see what I am pleased to call a chick flick for thinking chicks.

Bulldog sez: I give Crazy, Stupid, Love 3 and 1/2 Paws Up*

*Here is the rating system:
1  Paw Up:    Bad enough for me to poop on.
2 Paws Up:   Passable but nothing to bark at.
3 Paws Up:   Entertaining, but not like treeing a cat.
4 Paws Up:   Very good – worth the kibble to see it.
5 Paws Up:   Ow-WOOOOOOOOOOO! Better than a Milk Bone.

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4 Responses to Bulldog Cinema: Crazy, Stupid, Love

  1. Nadia says:

    I understand you have a man-crush on Ryan Reynolds, but in what world is “Just Friends” a classic?

    • Gene Hoyas says:

      For your information, you ditzy broad, I do not have a man-crush on Ryan Reynolds. I have do have a man-crush on Robert Downey, Jr.

      Tony Stark rules!

      • Nadia says:

        whatever “Just Friends” is still not a classic, its a passable rom-com and thats about it and if it wasn’t for Anna Faris it wouldn’t have been even passable.