By Mike Smith
Fans of the television program “The Office” (the US version) were pretty sad this season when Steve Carell left the show. After seven successful seasons Carell decided to do what countless actors have done before: make that successful transition from tv star to MOVIE STAR! In the past Carell has done some solid work in comedies like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Anchorman,” as well as showing some serious chops in “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Dan In Real Life.” Many actors before Carell have taken that big step. From Clint Eastwood, Ryan O’Neal and Tom Selleck (good choice) to Shelly Long and David Caruso (not so good), many have taken that great leap only to land hard. Not Carell. As a man who must learn how to deal with all that life throws at him after his wife asks for a divorce, Carell gives, in my opinion, the best performance of his career.
Cal (Carell) and Emily (Moore) have been married for two plus decades. One night at dinner, unable to decide what they want, Cal suggests they count down from three and then say it out loud. Cal is floored when Emily orders “a divorce.” He moves out of the house, leaving behind two very sweet children, Molly (Joey King) and Robbie (Jonah Bobo, truly the emotional heart of the film). While drinking away his sorrows in the local singles bar Cal is befriended by Jacob (Gosling), who can see in Cal a defeated man who needs to discover life again. While helping Cal Jacob is mystified by a beautiful woman (Stone) who resists his advances. By the time the film is over, everyone will have, hopefully, found what they were looking for.
Brilliantly written by Dan Fogleman, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is the perfect romantic comedy and the best one to come along since “Love Actually.” The characters are fully developed and as you watch them you can easily identify them as someone you know. It also helps that the film is perfectly cast. As I mentioned above, the sky is the limit for Steve Carell on the big screen. He proves himself a true romantic leading man here, as well as a fine actor. Same with Gosling. So great in heavier roles like “Half Nelson,” which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and “Blue Valentine,” which criminally didn’t, here he gets to have a few laughs, some at his expense. Like Matt Damon before him, Gosling is beginning to become one of my favorite actors to watch on screen. Moore and Stone are also strong characters, a rarity in this genre’. The supporting cast, including Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei, Analeigh Tipton and a hilarious Josh Grobin, help the film maintain it’s fast pace. But it is young Mr. Bobo that surprises with a performance that belies his 14 years. His Robbie, more than anyone else in the film, has a handle on what love is and how it should be. And everything is held together by the strong direction of Ficarra and Requa, who crafted last year’s “I Love You Phillip Morris” with a deft hand. No sophomore slump here!
In a summer of romantic comedies both good and bad, it’s nice to see that Hollywood saved the best for last.
Blu-ray Details and Extras
With it’s naturalistic flesh tones, welcome detail, strong colour palette and deep blacks, the Blu-ray’s 1080p transfer looks a treat. Coupled with an effective DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, the Blu-ray definitely won’t deter enjoyment from it’s look or sound.
Extras are pretty disappointing; there’s a couple of fluffy EPK-style featurettes and 12 minutes of deleted scenes (all cut for good reason; there’s a U-Haul sequence that would’ve played just after a nice dramatic moment in the film and ruined that moment completely).
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