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Crazy, Stupid Love (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 117 minutes

Not for children.

Who is the luckiest man in Hollywood? My vote goes to Ryan Gosling. First he's the onscreen lover of Rachel McAdams in The Notebook (2004, which still brings tears to my eyes all these years later). Now he gets Emma Stone. He's two-thirds of the way to a trifecta. Only Amy Adams remains.

This is a film that restores my faith in romantic comedies. What makes it tick is the exceptional acting. What sets it above the norm is Emma Stone. It's a good, entertaining film for the first hour, but then when Emma takes center stage, it is drop dead funny. Gosling's reactions to her antics make the scenes well-nigh perfect.  Her crazed but believable performance is deserving of an Oscar®, but this is a comedy and Oscars rarely recognize comedies.

It's got a terrific, complex script (Dan Fogelman) that interweaves relationships between and among all the participants in a deliciously labyrinthine plot. The fact that there is only one credit shows that there weren't any problems in putting it together. While Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, and Gosling give fine performances, the other actor who makes this something special is Jonah Bobo, who plays Robbie, the son of Carell and Moore. His deadpan playing is spot on.

If there were an Oscar® for ensemble cast, this would be at the top of the nominee list because there isn't a weak performance in the bunch, including Analeigh Tipton as the "older woman" at 17, object of 13-year old Robbie's affections, Oscar®-winner Marisa Tomei as a woman-scorned teacher with whom Carell gets involved, and Kevin Bacon, who is after Moore when it looks as if she is dumping her husband, Carell. Crooner Josh Groban even has a cameo and acquits himself admirably among such blazing talent.

On the negative side, it's too long at just a shade under two hours and the maudlin ending segued the film from a fine comedy into something different, breaking the fine comedic pace of the movie up until then. If directors Glenn Ficarra and John Recqua could have stifled the urge to end a good comedy with a message (albeit a good one) and terminated the film 20 minutes earlier, it would have left a much better taste in my mouth. Ficarra and Recqua should have taken heed of Samuel Goldwyn's advice that if a filmmaker wants to send a message, he should use Western Union. Today he'd probably say Twitter since WU doesn't send telegrams any more.