THERE IS ONE perfect slice of romance in Crazy Stupid Love, one suggestion of the better movie that could have been: Emma Stone goes home with Ryan Gosling. He makes her an old fashioned. He takes off his shirt, and she sensibly refuses to let him put it back on. They reenact a scene from Dirty Dancing. They fall into bed. It is as sexy and sweet as popcorn fairy tales get.
Though there's palpable chemistry between Gosling and Stone—two of the heart-throbbiest actors working today, in this writer's humble assessment—Crazy Stupid Love isn't really about the relationship between these two attractive, charismatic young people. No, it's about Steve Carell's need for a new pair of shoes.
After Carell's wife (Julianne Moore, totally squandered) has an affair and requests a divorce, he's befriended by Ryan Gosling, who gives him a man-makeover and teaches him a few tricks for pickin' up the ladies. But Carell still loves his wife, and Ryan Gosling has forgotten how to love until he meets Emma Stone, and Carell's kid is in love with the babysitter and zzzzzzzzzzzz....
This plodding rom-com reveals one basic truth: Steve Carell can't be trusted. We can all agree that he was great in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Office, but the mere existence of Crazy Stupid Love threatens Carell's status as a comedy icon: It just isn't very funny. Moreover, it's unwieldy, clichéd, and it squanders a handful of typically great actors.
Frustratingly, there are those moments that hint at a potentially great movie—the aforementioned scene between Gosling and Stone, or a weighty, touching interaction between Moore and Carell, sitting in a school hallway on parent/teacher night, confessing that they miss each another. (Typically, this scene is cut short by the intrusion of a grating comedy bit about a sex-crazed Marisa Tomei.) But these moments are brief and infrequent; the bulk of Crazy Stupid Love is a numbing, predictable slog.