rating:4.5Ryan Gosling seems to have made a career out of making very clever choices. Half-Nelson, Drive, Blue Valentine, even The Notebook - all were critically or commercially successful, and all added to his status as one of the hottest properties currently working in Hollywood. The decision to take on the role of Jacob, a beautifully cool, effortlessly suave womaniser opposite Steve Carell's hopeless, separated Mr Nobody, Cal looked like the first really safe commercial decision. After all a comedy, opposite Carell, in a hugely generous role that allowed him to play the impervious anti-hero type without any real comedy responsibility could lead to no real problems unless the film failed. And thankfully, Crazy, Stupid, Love doesn't fail to deliver on any count. It is a chemistry-driven comedy with some major laughs and two central performances from Gosling and Carell that are equally irresistible, and hugely likeable, even at their most chauvinistic. Rounding out the cast are the wonderful red-headed duo of Emma Stone and Julianne Moore, as lover and ex-wife to Jacob and Cal respectively, and Jonah Bobo as Cal's sage son Robbie who rather ingeniously is the filter through which the film explores ideas of love. There are also prominent supporting roles for Annaleigh Tipton (a case of a 23 year old pretty convincingly playing a 17 year old for once), the beautiful Marisa Tomei, and Kevin Bacon, who is understated and oddly likeable as Moore's new love interest. It is a very strongly put together cast, and all do their part with a very good, and very funny script which never resorts to mawkish romance or unnecessary gross-out sequences. No, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a far more clever film than that. The plot follows Cal as he picks up the pieces from his marriage ending: a broken man who is quick to find the bottom of multiple glasses for redemption and who wears the scars of his mistreatment like gaping, emasculating wounds. During one night of drunken melancholy in his new favourite haunt, Cal is approached by resident lothario Jacob, who oozes male power and sexuality, who offers to help him refind himself as a man. Cue a steep learning curve as Cal follows Jacob's rules for wooing ladies, dressing, and general deportment, which allow him to refind his mojo, at the same time insisting that it is his wife that he wants. To compliment Cal's moment of realisation, Jacob also meets a girl who turns his world upside down and makes him believe in love. Terribly cliched that idea, but the presence of Gosling and Stone in that dynamic makes for impeccable chemistry and their love affair is completely engrossing: making Jacob's decision to turn his back on his lifestyle less troublesome than it could well have been. It is the chemistry between Gosling and Carell that drives the film on the surface, but the reason it transcends the limits of this usually cliched genre is the unexpectedly tender heart that beats beneath that surface. There is a wonderful eye for romance even as the film knocks down the conventions of relationships, and it helps that none of the characters are the kind of lurid caricatures that comedies tend to gravitate towards. Relationships take the fore-front above the spectacle of comedy, and nothing feels particularly forced leading to organic and unexpected moments of comedy. Importantly there is good camaraderie throughout the cast, and every relationship - between Cal and Jacob, Jacob and Emily, Cal and Hannah, Cal and son Robbie are all believable, and each have enough in them to breed moments of both humour and tenderness. Every moment that happens on screen is driven by chemistry, and it is why the film is such a resounding success. The film isn't scared to explore the darker issues, like divorce and adultery and the problems that can end relationships. Crucially, there is no real judgement put upon either Cal or his wife Emily for the end of their relationship (though it was she who was adulterous, and who asks for divorce), and it allows both characters to grow back towards one another without completely abandoning themselves, as romantic resolutions seem to demand in most tradition romances. Neither does the script try and squeeze inappropriate laughs out of the darker parts of that relationship, as others might have, and instead focuses on letting the comedy grow out of the situations that are bred from the struggles. I never expected to be quite so positive, but Crazy, Stupid, Love side-swiped me in a way that romantic comedies have largely failed in the last ten years.
rating:4Without much real spectacle, the transfer copes very well. The print looks very good, contrast is consistent, colours and black levels are generally very impressive and there remains a pleasant filmic grain that means there is some slight compromise on detail and texture quality, but it's far from a problematic amount. There's very little to really point out as problematic though, and what the film asks of the blu-ray is generally very well handled. The sound design isn't of the calibre that really shows off the capabilities of the medium, but then the film hardly demands it. What the track does include is dutifully handled by the blu-ray transfer: ambient noise is strong enough, dialogue is clean and precise and the music is presented near perfectly. A very good transfer.
rating:1.5Largely just fluff, there really isn't anything to write home about here, but the quality of the Deleted Scenes (apart from one) and the entertainment factor of the silly short piece between Gosling and Carell lift this bare bones release just above the lowest rating. But only just. Good way to try and spoil a bloody good film that. Deleted Scenes The Player Meets His Match Steve and Ryan Walk Into a Bar Crazy, Stupid, Love is available to buy on blu-ray and DVD from tomorrow.