A smart date-night choice with some great moments

2011-08-29 00:00

I WANTED this film to be better. However, it’s still worth a recommendation because as romcoms go it strives — on multiple levels — to elevate the sophistication of the status quo.

Except for a couple of scenes which slow the momentum, it’s a likeable ensemble, similar to Love, Actually but with a stronger narrative.

Among the multi-generational love plots and twists the common denominator is Cal (Steve Carrell), a complete square whose 25-year marriage to high-school sweetheart Emily (Julianne Moore) disintegrates at a restaurant. She says she wants a divorce and confesses to sleeping with another man.

Shell-shocked, Cal moves out of the house and begins spending his evenings in a cocktail lounge, where he meets ladies’ man Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who decides to coach the pathetic middle-aged Cal.

Carrell is in typically droll mode, and it’s difficult not to want everything to be okay for him. Gosling is excellent as the smooth operator challenging Cal to up his man game.

They’re in turn accompanied by a number of excellent actresses, including Emma Stone as the fun, quirky red-haired Hannah, and Julianne Moore as Cal’s cheating wife. Marisa Tomei — Cal’s first conquest — has fewer scenes, but she makes sure she’s seen and … um … heard.

It’s a likeable cast accompanied by some great moments, like Carrell honing his bar-chat technique and Gosling doing a Dirty Dancing-like move with Stone.

One reviewer labelled Crazy Stupid Love the inception of romantic comedies. The reality is it could have been, but not quite. It’s still a smart date-night choice, though. ***

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