“Crazy, Stupid, Love,” starring Steve Carell and Julianne Moore, opens with a marriage breakup scene. It’s not played for laughs but we can tell from the jaunty music and sitcom pacing that we are not exactly in Ingmar Bergman country, either. The whole movie takes its cue from this sequence: No matter how dark, keep it light.
Cal (Carell) and Emily (Moore) have been married for 25 years. The ostensible reason for the bust-up is her fling with a dull office worker (Kevin Bacon), but mainly she just seems tired, confused, upset – in other words, according to the rules of this remarriage genre, she is likely to come back to Cal once she figures things out.
Cal, meantime, miserable and clueless, hits the Los Angeles singles scene, frequenting a bar that looks like the set for that old “Playboy After Dark” TV show. He is taken under the wing of the hyperconfident Jacob (Ryan Gosling), whose clincher pickup line – “Let’s get out of here” – is a sure winner for him.
The exception, at least for a time, is Hannah (Emma Stone), an auburn-haired law school graduate who is wise to him from the start. When she finally succumbs, she remarks, not altogether in praise, that his shirtless self looks as if he was Photoshopped.
Clearly these two are made for each other – he gets his comeuppance and she gets a reformed stud muffin. There’s also Cal’s 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who is smitten by the teenage Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who baby-sits for his little sister.
Jessica, meanwhile, is smitten by the unsuspecting Cal.
The romantic crisscrossing is pretty pro forma, even though directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (script by Dan Fogelman) throw in a few plot twists near the end to confound the know-it-alls in the audience. But even the surprises are, in a way, unsurprising.
Carell is probably a little too good at playing straight-laced mopers, and Moore puts more distraught emotion into her role than it can comfortably hold. Gosling and Stone (Hollywood’s new “It” girl – she has at least four movies coming up, including “The Help” and the new “Spider-Man” movie) are a better team. Best is Marisa Tomei in a cameo as one of Cal’s flings. She throws some of the best tantrums around.